Reported in the News Letter on October 3, 1957: Belfast chemists open later to deal with flu epidemic


Because of the influenza epidemic, chemist shops in two areas of Belfast were open for an extra hour last night to cope with the increased demand for prescriptions.

The additional service – from 8-9pm – was arranged by a committee which acts as a liaison between the chemists and the Northern Ireland Health Services Board.

An official of the committee said last night that the service, which was provided in the Shankill Road and lower Newtownards Road areas, need not necessarily continue tonight. A decision would be taken on a day-to-day basis.

There was no significant change yesterday in the position so far as schools in Belfast were concerned, a spokesman of the Education Authority told a “Belfast News-Letter” reporter. On Tuesday [October 1], some 15,000 children and about 80 teachers were absent, and yesterday there were more victims. Reports received by the Authority indicated that the proportion of absentees remained in the region of 35 to 40 per cent.

Public transport services have not been affected seriously by the epidemic. Although 155 employees of Belfast Corporation Transport were absent, including 68 drivers and 87 conductors, only three buses did not run to schedule. However, one of the reasons for this has been the drop in the numbers of passengers carried. Receipts for Tuesday were £601 below those for the same day last year, mainly because so many children and workers stayed at home with flu.

About 100 Ulster Transport Authority drivers and conductors did not report for work throughout the Province, but here again all services were operated fully.

Between 700 and 800 employees of Short Bros and Harland at Queen’s Island were away from work but production was not affected. No figures were available for absentees at Harland and Wolff.