Like Michael Brooks (Hair like Chewbacca, letters, Westmorland Gazette, May 21), I am curious to know how Dominic Cummings has been able to keep his hair so neat during the current crisis.

I write, however, about the number of deaths in the UK from Hong Kong flu in 1968-69.

The figure he gives - 80,000 - is the highest of many that may readily be found. The government’s published data for excess winter mortality (EWM) shows that EWM for 1968-69 was 50,630 (to be found at

That is 1,484 higher than the rolling five-year average.

In the previous winter, the EWM was 21,338 above the rolling average. On the same basis, the figure for the following winter, 1969-70, was 13,432.

Thus, so far as I can tell, and I’m working at the limit of my meagre arithmetic capability, excess mortality in the winter of 1968 was relatively low, and certainly much lower than the dreadful numbers we hear every day in this emergency.

For my part, I spent much of that winter in Paris, where the still-unfolding événements left me no time for flu.

Richard Little

Address supplied