How did a quarantine look like in 1800?

Pretty much what you would expect … plus the death penalty!

The same concept of containment of the diseases was applied then: Identify, isolate, treat.

For such a system to be effective, the chain of transmission needs to be cut off. Thus, quarantine measures were applied.

Among the measures the Committee of Health ordered:

  • No crowding
  • Closure of schools
  • Stay at home
  • Keep houses clean (the poorer areas were the most hit. The bubonic diseases is transmitted by fleas)
  • A stop to the selling of clothes, skins
  • No Mendicants
  • Suspension of the departure of ships
  • Shutting down of the Court, theatre and places of crowding
  • Restriction of government offices

The three cities, Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua were put under the direct supervision of physicians with daily visits.

People were advised to keep dogs and cats indoors. In some case people resorted in shooting them. As this print (below) shows:

When these measures were not enough and because many did were still not taking the plague seriously enough, the Govt put in place the death penalty. This was also done as a detriment to looting and crime.

PT5: Snippets of the 1813 Bubonic Plague

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

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