It was Monday night, March 16, sitting in my apartment in Berlin, when the reality of the coronavirus dawned on me.
I received an email from the editor of one of the magazines that I work for, explaining that, because most social and cultural events in the city had been cancelled, so had our ad revenue. Put simply, there wasn't enough money to print our April edition.
They were applying for state aid, the email said, and they hoped to get the edition out in May, it added, but for freelancers like me, the implied message was clear: we're sorry, but you might not get paid for the work you've done - and we're not sure when we'll have work for you again.
Of course, by this stage I was already well aware of the severity of the situation. Infection numbers in the city were rising, and the German government had taken the step of closing all schools, bars and cinemas, among other businesses. But I still naively thought that I'd be able to ride it out without too much discomfort.
However, after reading that email I realised that almost everything would be affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Now, as the government in Australia enforces ever-increasing measures to stop the spread of the virus, five Novocastrians abroad share the moment that the enormity of the coronavirus crisis dawned on them.
Long before the virus had closed pubs, shut down sporting codes and triggered a national run on toilet paper in Australia, Eleebana local Scott Brownsmith was already witnessing the beginning of the crisis in his new home of Hong Kong.
"Just before the Chinese New Year weekend, around January 25, was when it really started to pick up," he says.
Everyone's been really disciplined with wearing face masks. On the street, there's 95-99 per cent coverage, particularly among the locals.Scott Brownsmith in Hong Kong
"My wife sent me a text saying, 'Holy shit, half the people are wearing face masks.' And then the next day she went back out to go to work and wrote, 'Holy shit, everyone is wearing one.' It was like a two-day thing, and they were universal."
Given Hong Kong's close proximity to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, it was one of the first places in the world to record cases of infection. However, as a city that was hit hard by the SARS outbreak of 2003, locals were quick to try and prevent a repeat of that tragedy.
"Everyone's been really disciplined with wearing face masks. On the street, there's 95-99 per cent coverage, particularly among the locals. Everyone washes their hands religiously, people are keeping their space and aren't using public transport if they can avoid it. If they can stay home, they do stay home."
As a result of these efforts, and despite a second wave of infections in the past week, Hong Kong has been lauded as a global leader in halting the rate of transmissions.
For Brownsmith, who saw the success of such social distancing efforts up close, watching the crisis play out in Australia has been "absolutely baffling".
"It's been strange talking to friends back home. I've been in their ear since January saying that this is a real thing and that it's going to be a problem for everyone eventually, but I feel like they're just not listening - still."
In recent weeks, most Australians abroad have been faced with the question of whether they should return home, but for Warners Bay's Hayden Callen, it was a question of whether he should head in the opposite direction.
On a long-planned trip to Canada and armed with a working holiday visa, Callen arrived in Vancouver on March 14, just days before the national border was shut to non-citizens.
But in a sign of how quickly the situation has developed, the 23-year-old said he wasn't placed under any health checks or required to self-isolate upon arriving in the country.
"The border was super relaxed," he says. "They didn't even tell me to do a two-week quarantine or anything. I literally just walked in, but two days later they shut the borders."
While initially planning to find work in the town of Revelstoke, in eastern British Colombia, the closure of nearby ski resorts, as well as all bars and cafes, has meant that his idea of a working holiday, at least at the moment, has taken a very different turn.
"I've got a friend who has applied for a few jobs, but they've all come back to him saying that they aren't hiring until everything is blown over," he says.
"I'm only lucky I have enough cash to last me, otherwise I'd be on a flight home."
While thousands of Aussies, seemingly unfazed by the virus threat, were still filling up beaches around the country as late as last week, the reaction in other parts of the world could not have been more different.
"It just felt like panic on the streets," says Grace Murray, a Novocastrian-turned-New Yorker, who has called the city home for the past seven years.
In mid-March she and her colleagues were sent home from work after someone connected to their company was suspected of having contracted the virus. And it was on her way home that the enormity of the situation was put sharply into focus.
"There were so many people walking past me on their phones and you could overhear all of them freaking out about it. It was very suddenly overwhelming. I went from thinking it was about doomsday preppers to being completely shocked and overwhelmed about how sudden and drastic and enormous and unprecedented of a situation it is.
"And you could feel it from everyone collectively realising that at the same time. It was like something had clicked, and it felt like everyone on the island of Manhattan freaked out simultaneously."
Since then, the city - normally a bustling metropolis - has painted a far different picture.
"It's incredibly quiet, kind of eerily quiet for New York. I've never seen anything like it," she says.
And while her life has been largely restricted to her apartment for the past few weeks, Murray says she's managed to find ways to keep her social life alive with colleagues and friends.
"It's become a very quick, new normal of having a wine together on video chat at six o'clock," she says.
The streets have been equally as quiet on the Spanish island of Mallorca in the Mediterrenean Sea, where Merewether native Stephanie Iredale has lived for the past four years.
With Spain recording the third-most COVID-19-related deaths globally, behind just China and Italy, on March 14 the government implemented a nationwide state of emergency that placed significant restrictions on movement outside the home.
"You're allowed to go outside for groceries, you can go to the pharmacy, you can get petrol, you can go to the doctor or the hospital, you're allowed to go take care of somebody and you're allowed to walk your dog," Iredale says. "So everybody's renting out their dogs on the internet."
Like many, Iredale, who works as a school teacher, says she was shocked by the rapid acceleration of the situation.
"[The school] sent an email to the parents saying, 'Don't worry, everything's fine, there's not going to be a lockdown.'
"And then the next day we had a meeting and they said, 'Be prepared to be prepared for a lockdown.'"
But despite being more or less house-bound, there have been some silver linings to come out of the ordeal.
"I borrowed a keyboard from my school and I'm teaching myself piano," she says.
"I brought a ukulele home, we're painting and I'm talking a lot to people on the phone. I've been living here for four years, and I've called my brother more times in the past two weeks than in four years."
While most of us are looking to avoid contact and keep occupied indoors, for Valentine's Tim Rodgers, that simply isn't an option.
Working as a paramedic in Leicester, in the UK, he is on the front line of the fight against the coronavirus.
"Our workload has increased, for sure," the 24-year-old says. "It's having a pretty big impact."
On top of the sheer number of additional cases, dealing with the crisis has also created a number of new dangers and complications on the job.
"If we go in to a job and the patient is confirmed as having coronavirus once we leave, we then have to be isolated and the truck that we took them in has to go for a deep clean, which means you've lost two people out of the workforce and another truck," he says.
With a unique view in the ongoing struggle, Rodgers caught a glimpse of the severity of the situation in early March, well before social distancing had become the world's newest survival strategy.
"They showed us how to suit up in the big white suit with the ventilator mask. We thought it was a bit of a laugh at the time."
But shortly after he realised just how serious the situation would become, after seeing colleagues taken off their shift following just an hour on the job.
"They said, 'We got a coronavirus patient, so we have to send the car off for a deep clean.' In that moment I thought, 'Crap, we've got two perfectly good healthcare professionals here who actually don't have the tools to be able to do the job that they need to.'"
Alex Pichaloff, from Valentine, is a freelance journalist based in Berlin.