How Senglea survived the plague

The use of quarantine measures is nothing new.

Quarantine is an old method utilised by authorities and communities to contain or slow down the spread of a diseases as much as possible. It provides the opportunities to provide effective care to the victims.

The town of Senglea managed to survive the 1813 Bubonic plague by sealing itself to the exterior world by placing itself into self-quarantine.

This was quite successful because despite being a harbour town (thus, highly vulnerable to infections) none of its inhabitants died from the disease.

Quarantine was one measure adopted by the authorities to slow down the spread of the disease.

Senglea has the advantage of being a peninsula with three sides being naturally closed off by the sea. The narrow entrance to the town was closed off by its historic gates. Qrendi, Gharghur, Balzan, Kirkop, Ghaxaq and Safi were two other towns which avoided the plague.

Other towns were less fortunate. After Valletta, the disease soon spread to the towns of Birkirkara, Qormi and Zebbug leaving a high death toll.

After the plague was over, a number of ‘Ex-Voto’ painting were donated to churches. A case in point is the ‘Ex-Voto’ of Andrea Calleja, a doorman of the Floriana Hospital, who offered his painting to ‘Tal-Herba’ in Mellieha (Featured image, Treasures of Malta)

Areas in Malta that were quarantined in 1813

PT4: Snippets of the 1813 Bubonic Plague

Sarangu’s World is supported by Arts Council Malta – Malta Arts Fund

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