Theatres and public spaces were shut down to help prevent the virus spreading - eerily foreshadowing events 100 years on. Mediadrumimages

By Alex Jones


COLOURISED images reveal the devastation caused by the SPANISH FLU which killed at least FIFTY-MILLION – as studies claim CORONAVIRUS could SURPASS that.

The unsettling shots, taken between 1918 and 1920, show row upon row of stricken patients suffering with the deadly virus; corridors lined with the sick and dying as wards overflowed; and officials donning suits and facemasks in a desperate bid to stave off the killer disease.

In 1918, a strain of influenza known as Spanish flu caused a global pandemic, spreading rapidly and killing indiscriminately. Young, old, sick and otherwise-healthy people all became infected, with a significant amount of deaths daily.

Masks and cloths of all persuasions were worn to help protect the wearer form the killer virus. Mediadrumimages

These seldom seen photographs, colourised for the first time, graphically depict the scale of the pandemic.

The colouriser, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I have been colourising for a long time as a hobby, which I started by colouring pictures for my family and friends, but my passion has grown into almost an obsession.

“It’s been over one-hundred years since the Spanish flu happened and I thought it was important to remember the millions of people who lost their lives.”

Camp Funston Flu Ward, 1918. In March 1918, some of the first recorded American cases of what came to be the worldwide influenza pandemic, also known as “Spanish flu”, were reported at Camp Funston. Mediadrumimages

Estimates vary on the exact number of deaths caused by the disease, but it is thought to have infected a third of the world’s population and killed at least 50 million people, making it the deadliest pandemic in modern history. Although at the time it gained the nickname ‘Spanish flu’, it’s unlikely that the virus originated in Spain with some historians now argue the disease originated in China.

The spread of the disease was greatly assisted by hundreds of thousands of battle-weary soldiers – already exhausted and with weakened immune systems – returning home from the battlefields of The Great War. The deadly flu claimed more lives than World War I, which ended the same year the pandemic struck and World War Two combined.

A cleverly restored photograph, seen here for the first time, show Red Cross nurses in Washington demonstrate patient care during the outbreak. Mediadrumimages

The coronavirus – or COVID-19 could equal or even exceed the Spanish flu death toll, despite modern day medicines and healthcare systems. According to a study conducted by the Australian National University. The worst-case scenario for coronavirus — which is modelled after Spanish flu epidemic — could see global deaths surpass 68 million people.

At present, the Spanish flu remains the deadliest flu pandemic to date by a distance, having killed an estimated 1 to three per cent of the world’s population.