Last week I sent you a piece about Covid in Malta, and now one week later, by some bizarre coincidence, I am self isolating after contracting the illness. I have absolutely no idea how it was transmitted to me as my daily routine had not changed, and neither had I visited any places with large numbers of people present. All can say, is that I feel terrible and can sympathise with you if you were unfortunate to have also caught it at some point.
Looking at the subject of this weeks newsletter, I am praying that the plague doesn’t return between now and next week.
Malta has had a long and complex relationship with the plague. From its earliest recorded cases in the 13th century to the more recent outbreaks during the 20th century, the island has seen first hand the devastation of this infectious disease.
The first recorded case of the plague in Malta occurred in 1290, when a number of people on the island died from the disease. This was followed by a number of smaller outbreaks in the 14th and 15th centuries. By the mid 16th century, the plague had become endemic in Malta, with multiple outbreaks occurring each year. As a result, there was a dramatic decline in the population of the country, as well as an economic downturn, due to the restrictions placed on trade and travel.
In 1675, the plague broke out again in Malta, which at the time was ruled by the Order of St John. Poor leadership and a lack of preparation, led to an uncontrollable spread of the disease which resulted in around 11,300 deaths. Those who survived were forced to isolate themselves in their homes as officials tried to eradicate the disease, and people suspected to be carriers of the plague were held in a hospital called the Lazzaretto, which was on an island in the harbour close to Valletta, called Manoel Island, although today it is listed as a Grade 2 national monument, the former hospital is in a state of neglect with some parts of it having collapsed.
Lazzaretto Quarantine Hospital
The spread of the plague in Malta was intensified by the fact that the country was in close proximity to the North African mainland, which had been a major centre of infection since the disease was introduced into Europe. In the late 16th century, the plague was brought to Malta by ships from North Africa, and it spread rapidly throughout the island. In response, the government imposed a strict quarantine system, as well as strict regulations on the movement of people and goods. These measures were successful in containing the spread of the disease, and Malta enjoyed a relatively plague free period until the 19th century when the plague returned to Malta, with a number of serious outbreaks occurring between 1813 and 1836. During this time, the population of Malta was dramatically reduced, with the death toll reaching 16,000 in 1834 alone. The economic impact of this disease was also significant, as the restrictions on trade and travel caused a recession in the country.
The 20th century saw a number of further outbreaks of the plague in Malta, with the most serious occurring in 1921. This outbreak killed around 1,000 people and led to the closure of the main port in Valletta. The economic impact of the plague was also felt, as it led to the collapse of the fishing industry and the stagnation of the country’s economy, but today Malta is a much safer and healthier place than it was in previous centuries.
Picture of the week
This is not as sinister as it looks. He is actually cleaning the hopper of the cement mixer.
HOPE YOU FEEL BETTER SOON !