General, Research, Technology

Was social distance observed during the plague?

During the coronavirus pandemic, peoplesocial distancing is recommended. This means that in public places, each person should keep a distance of about 2 meters from everyone else. This rule is important to follow to reduce the number of infections, because the disease is transmitted by air and skin contact. As we know, in the history of mankind there have been outbreaks of many deadly diseases. For example, from 1346 to 1351, plague spread in Europe, which caused the death of about 60% of the population. People knew perfectly well that the disease is very contagious. In this regard, the question arises - was there a social distance in those days, or did people think of this only recently? The answer to this question was given by James Hankins of Quillette editions.

This is how the protective suits of doctors during the plague epidemic looked like

Quillette Is an online magazine that was foundedAustralian writer Claire Lehmann. It publishes articles on science, technology and culture. It has received many positive reviews from scientists such as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, psychologist Jordan Peterson, and so on.

Danger of plague

Some people compare the coronavirus pandemic withplague epidemic. But, according to Quillette, the scale of these events is incomparable. The most detailed description of the consequences of the plague epidemic was written by the Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio. In one of his works, he mentioned that in four months about 100,000 people died from the plague... Boccaccio wrote that every morning from the citiesdozens of dead bodies were taken out - first to the church, and then to the cemetery. As the number of patients grew, the dead began to be simply taken to burial sites and buried without religious rites.

Painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder "The Triumph of Death"

The main symptom of plague infection was consideredthe appearance of buboes on the body. This was the name of the site of inflammation of the lymph nodes. Sometimes the size of the tumors was comparable to apples. The infected also had black skin and terrible pain. The breath of people sick with plague had a putrid smell. Attempts to cure the plague were undertaken by plague doctors in protective suits. They wore long cloaks, hats to cover their hair, glasses and a mask in the form of a long beak. Inside this beak was a tissue soaked in drugs. Thus, the plague doctors tried to protect themselves from possible infection.

Read also: How does reading the doomsday news affect health?

Social distance in the Middle Ages

As you can see, the plague was just a terrible disease. Therefore, social distance existed in those days. Moreover, protecting yourself from people was not a recommendation from the authorities. Some people themselves stopped contacting others. It got to the point that even parents abandoned their sick children. There were those who stocked up on food, locked themselves at home and did not even want to hear about all the horrors that were happening outside the walls. In fact, this is very similar to the times when people began to massively stock up on buckwheat and toilet paper in order to go into self-isolation.

During the first wave of coronavirus, many store shelves looked like this

Poor people, someof which crimes were not alien, they climbed into the houses of people who died from the plague and carried food and money out of there. At the same time, they were not afraid to get infected, but in the end their greed became the cause of the infection and they, in the end, died.

Interesting fact: after the plague epidemic, the number of rich people increased. Someone received an inheritance from deceased relatives, and someone made themselves wealth by committing robberies.

Safety measures during the plague

It is important to note that epidemics of bubonic plagueoccurred at least 17 times. The last major one took place in 1664. After realizing that epidemics would still occur from time to time, the authorities of the countries began to actively monitor the outbreaks. During outbreaks, leaving the cities was prohibited so that the disease did not spread to other settlements. Some people bought out-of-town homes to wait out dangerous times in a safe place when rumors of a new outbreak emerged. That is, during the plague there was not only social distance, but also self-isolation mode.

Outbreaks of the bubonic plague also occur in the modern world. At the end of 2020, two people became infected with a terrible disease. You can read more about this here.

However, to compare the coronavirus pandemic withthe plague is not entirely true. The mortality rate of these two outbreaks of dangerous diseases is incomparable - the plague claimed many more lives. Fortunately, today medicine is much better developed and many people understand the importance of observing safety rules. You can read more about how terrible the bubonic plague epidemic was in the article by my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova. She talked about what causes disease, how disease outbreaks occur and shared other interesting information. I recommend reading it right now!