19 May 2020

Coronavirus: Elderly remember polio shutdown

From Morning Report, 6:13 am on 19 May 2020

A generation of New Zealanders spending their lockdown in rest homes have memories of schools closing due to epidemics that swept the country during their childhoods.

After polio first gripped New Zealand in 1914, killing 25 people, epidemics occurred every few years until the early 1960s, when vaccines eradicated the disease here the following decade.

Reporter Amy Williams talked to her 92 year-old grandmother - Margaret Whitwell - who was just 10 years-old when her Nelson school closed due to a polio outbreak in 1937, when 39 New Zealanders died from the disease.