THREE months into the coronavirus crisis, the position here in the Hunter Region looks less threatening than the situation facing any number of nations, states and regions around the world.
The Hunter's case load rose by 16 on Wednesday, to 234.
The national total has topped 5100, with 23 fatalities.
Most Australian infections can still be traced back to their overseas travel or cruise ship sources, but as Hunter New England Health physician David Durrheim points out, we have enough cases with "unknown" beginnings to indicate the virus is already "in the community", even if it is "circulating at a low level". The task for all of us is to keep those numbers as low as possible.
There is nothing inevitable about COVID-19, as the various outcomes around the world are revealing.
MORE OF THE GLOBAL PICTURE:
A fortnight ago, Australia and the US had similar case infection rates, with one case for every 35,000 people.
Our rate has risen to one case for every 5000 or so people, while America's 216,000 cases so far equates to one case for every 1500 people.
Because Australia's infection curve is steadily flattening, the biggest impacts of COVID-19, for most of us, lie with the economic and social restrictions that have brought much of our daily lives to a grinding halt, but for a now-measurable greater good.
By setting a deadline of 90 days on the state's lockdown provisions, NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller has given the public a date to work towards, and a signal that our new straitened world will continue for some time.
One of the key questions with this week's JobKeeper scheme was whether businesses could survive until early May to receive their first cheques.
Perhaps realising this, the Morrison government says its plan to underwrite the nation's 13,000 child care centres will see money flowing from next week.
Those centres that remain open and fee-free will have half of their operating costs reimbursed by the government, a laudable policy to help those families that have lost their incomes, or who must now work from home, with small children.
If there's a national bone of contention at the moment, it's in the government's hesitance in releasing its coronavirus modelling.
Australia should follow New Zealand's example, and allow the public to see the data that is driving government decision making.
We are trusting them. It is only fair that they trust us with the numbers.
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to ensure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists, you can subscribe here
IN THE NEWS:
- Cardiff business fined $5000 for breaching coronavirus conditions
- Only a handful of Newcastle Airport flights after Jetstar axes all routes
- 'You are safer outside than inside': Disease expert criticises restrictions
- The coronavirus crisis in Newcastle and the Hunter
- NSW isolation rules to last 90 days
- Stay up-to-date with our daily COVID-19 Informer newsletter