ENGLAND had a lucky escape when a Pakistani, recently arrived from Karachi, fell ill on 20 December in West Bromwich. Smallpox was diagnosed on 28 December and he was transferred to the smallpox hospital at Witton. There were signs that he had been successfully vaccinated in the past and he recovered, to be discharged from hospital on 20 January. A Medical Officer of Health who had examined him, developed symptoms but recovered and the official report records no further cases arising from this importation, despite the fact that he had stayed with fellow countrymen in the Birmingham area and attended a special cinema show on Boxing Day.
Remarkably, in view of what would happen later in Wales, the pattern repeated itself in the case of another Pakistani who arrived from Karachi and was diagnosed with smallpox. He reached London on 4 January and also travelled to Birmingham. He fell ill a few days later and on 15 January a diagnosis of suspected smallpox was made. Scars suggested successful vaccination; he recovered and – it appeared – he infected no-one, despite travelling by taxi and visiting a Labour Exchange. Birmingham, like London, escaped.
Bradford was not so lucky – and long before anyone realised it, the virus was out of the bag.