THE unavoidable lag between the notification of a potential coronavirus outbreak and the time when we know whether we are dealing with an explosion of case numbers means it could be the end of the week before we learn whether COVID-19 has taken hold in our community, or whether the region has had another fortuitous escape from the fate befalling Victoria.
On what is known, we are dealing with a possible trail of infection generated by two COVID-positive visitors from Sydney: a construction worker who went to three Newcastle drinking holes over two nights last week, and someone involved with a sitting at Toronto Courthouse on Monday last week.
Given the frequency with which licensed venues are appearing in the daily COVID-19 updates, it doesn't take an overheated imagination to fear that we may be simply shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.
On the other hand, similar concerns were held last week about an outbreak at Port Stephens, and as yet, at least, it seems as though the spread of infection has been limited, and far less than it might have been.
Either way, the isolated positives across the Hunter are yet another reminder of the fragility of the situation.
We are nowhere near that stage yet, but the state government is already recommending face masks outside, with more to come if new case numbers build much beyond the recent peak of 23 recorded last Thursday.
We are living through a period of history with no parallel: a modern-day plague in which accurate real-time information, rather than fear-mongered rumour, is readily available around the clock.
Specialists are right to highlight the stress that isolation can have on people.
At the same time, however, we should stop and remember that others - other streets, other towns, other states and countries and continents - are going through what we are, with far more in common than by way of difference.
Yes, Australian case numbers have more than doubled since the first peak died down in April.
And the coming week might bring us unwanted news.
But we are still in a better position than most, even if an embattled Donald Trump thinks a resurgence in Australian cases makes him look good.
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