IT'S a reflexive trait of human nature that we react in panic when bad new hits us initially, and then adjust our responses to whatever the "new normal" turns out to be.
At the end of March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison drove home the economic severity of the COVID-19 downturn, with his government's unprecedented six-month JobKeeper and JobSeeker stimulus packages.
Back then, the world was yet to register its millionth diagnosed case of coronavirus.
Fewer than 40,000 lives had been lost to a disease that many - including some world leaders - described as nothing worse than the flu.
Now, just six months after the virus emerged into global consciousness, the world we thought we knew has disappeared.
More than 10.1 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, and the death toll has topped 500,000.
As all of us should know by now, Australia has had a merciful escape, so far, from the burden of disease that has befallen many nations.
Unfortunately, however, despite the efforts of the Victorian government, case numbers are rising substantially in that state, leading to justifiable concern that a second wave of COVID-19 infections might already be spreading out of control.
Australia's political leaders had consistently warned that the easing of restrictions would mean a delicate balancing act to reopen the economy while keeping the disease at bay.
At least we are in a position to do this without chaos, unlike England and the United States, where the impact has been orders of magnitude greater than anything seen here.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now finally acknowledging the obvious, describing the situation as a "disaster", an "absolute nightmare" and a "profound shock" for the UK.
Unsurprisingly, US President Donald Trump continues to at best downplay, if not otherwise ignore, the tragedy unfolding around him, as he concentrates instead on his re-election campaign for an election now a little more than four months away.
From our isolated position, Australians can only watch as the situation worsens, globally, with an accelerating virus and a worryingly destabilised political outlook.
The next few weeks will tell whether we are able to retain our relative calm, or whether a second wave of COVID-19 will have us again battening down the hatches.
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