THE image above, of the usually bustling Darby Street, Cooks Hill, yesterday afternoon sums up the impact of Australia's coronavirus clampdown.
Across the region, across the state, across Australia, people are complying with directions from the various levels of government to a degree that few would have expected before the virus arrived.
The major headache for the authorities, at least in coastal areas, has been on the beaches.
Yesterday, Newcastle police were out in force to point out the extent of the latest level of restrictions, which include potential $11,000 fines for leaving home without a "reasonable excuse", as gazetted by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Monday night.
The ministerial order does allow "exercise".
The idea, however, of people enjoying themselves in the sun on the sand, while others are cooped away inside, is not one that sits easily with the notion of self-sacrifice - and self-preservation - that the COVID-19 restrictions are framed around.
Thankfully, the glimmer of hope in our recent coronavirus numbers continues to flicker, with Hunter New England Health reporting just 10 new cases in its latest daily roundup.
Australia's chief medical officer, Dr Brendan Murphy, and other leading experts, have been cautiously optimistic that the nation's various counter-measures are "flattening the curve" of infections.
Even so, any relaxation of vigilance would likely see the rate take off again, while ever the virus remained alive in the community.
This is one reason why - even if case numbers continue to fall - that the society-wide restrictions could continue for the rest of the year.
Domestic success in arresting COVID-19 will inevitably lead to calls for these restrictions - especially those that have forced people out of work by shutting businesses - to be eased.
But as things stand, not all nations are seeing their statistics move in the same direction as ours.
Although coronavirus has been detected in 180 of the world's 195 countries, the US has about 180,000 - or one in five - of 860,000 confirmed cases, globally.
White House officials are now predicting 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in America.
Such numbers show starkly the role that social distancing - which the US was late to embrace - has played in keeping our case numbers in some sort of manageable proportion. As bad as things are now, these are very likely still the early days.
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