In the far corner of the churchyard, a headstone captures a family's burden of grief. The grave contains the remains of 20 year old Alfred Edward Shepperd, who died on 9 January 1919.
Alfred arrived in England just four weeks after Armistice Day and on the day after Christmas, he was sent to a clearing hospital, suffering from influenza. When his condition worsened, he was transferred to a military hospital in Sutton Veny where he succumbed to the effects of pneumonia.
A native of Elliott, Alfred, along with his five siblings, were orphaned just five years earlier when their mother, Fanny Gale, passed away in January 1914. They had already lost their father only six weeks prior.
Tasmania had some of the strictest quarantine regulations in the world. One measure stipulated that, when travelling interstate, every person had to perform at least seven days quarantine before arrival at the port of departure, and then another seven days quarantine succeeding arrival in Tasmania. With the suspension of maritime services to the northwest coast, ports of entry were limited to Hobart and Launceston, thereby impacting the export of fresh produce from the northwest to the mainland.
Following an outbreak in Hobart in August 1919, more public health measures followed. These measures included closure of schools and other public facilities such as theatres, billiard rooms and similar places of entertainment as well as public meetings, the prohibition of outdoor sports, compulsory wearing of mask on public transport and last but not least, restrictions on licensing venues as follows:
"No person shall remain in any licensed hotel bar for longer period than five minutes, and that no more than three persons be allowed inside any licensed bar at any one time."
Fortunately Tasmania had the lowest mortality in all of Australia with 114 deaths in 100,000. However, the pandemic did its economy great damage.
The following table shows the number of cases and deaths from the Spanish flu in each district (Annual Report for the Chief Health Officer for the Year 1919-1920).
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