WITH the coronavirus spreading its way across Victoria in general - and through its aged-care sector in particular - whatever complacency people may have held about COVID-19 must surely be rendered a thing of the past.
The 723 new cases announced yesterday by Premier Daniel Andrews was far and away the biggest number this country has seen.
Victoria has almost 5400 active cases, spread across 60 of its 79 local government areas.
Border closures will always be politically contentious but the contrast between the NSW and Victorian case heat maps could not be starker.
Apart from a handful of recent cases at Albury, the closest active area in NSW is 240 kilometres north of the border, around Batemans Bay.
Unfortunately, past performance is no guarantee of future results, to borrow the standard financial markets disclaimer.
NSW is doing well at the moment - despite the clusters in Sydney that led to cases appearing in other areas including Port Stephens - but numbers have risen steadily, if slowly, since they bottomed late in May.
To twist another old saying, death and taxes are no longer life's only certainties, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison reminds us with his repeat warnings that further outbreaks of coronavirus are inevitable.
As we have noted before in this space, Australia has escaped fairly mildly to this point, some 15,600 positive tests and 176 deaths notwithstanding.
The federal government's early decision to close international borders was undoubtedly a saving grace.
This time around, however, transmission is almost entirely community driven. Just 34 of some 2700 cases in the past seven days had contracted the virus overseas.
Yesterday's Victorian number was a 40 per cent increase on the previous record of 512, set three days previously.
In the words of Premier Andrews, it was "not a good day".
As well as tightened restrictions in another six local government areas, Victorians will be ordered to wear masks whenever they leave home, across the state, from noon on Sunday.
The NSW government is not as yet following suit, but the Woolworths decision to "strongly encourage" mask-wearing by its staff and customers will be closely watched.
As a general way forward, we should plan for the worst, but hope for the best.
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