With the coronavirus outbreak now well into its second month some of its longer term economic and social consequences are starting to emerge.
There is no doubt, as Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, said in Canberra on Friday, that the Australian economy stands to take a significant hit.
"The potential risk to the Australian economy I think is bigger than SARS and the truth is really none of us know how this is going to play out," he told the House of Representatives economics committee.
"Our links with China are much more extensive than they were, the Chinese population is much more mobile than it was in 2003 and the Chinese economy in 2003 was growing very strongly."
Tourism and education are the two sectors that have been most severely impacted to date.
The ban on non-Australian residents from mainland China entering the country has already resulted in a lot of empty hotel rooms, tour buses and the like.
Our universities, including the ANU and UC, are beginning the academic year without thousands of Chinese students who were due to either start, or to resume, classes this month.
Given the impact on both has the potential to be as severe as the impact of the bushfire crisis on many regional areas, it would make sense for states, and the federal government, to look at ways in which organisations and individuals hit by this unforeseen calamity could be thrown a lifeline.
Then there is the social impact of having hundreds of Australians in quarantine on Christmas Island and in the Northern Territory, and the tens of thousands more who can't leave China for family or other reasons.
While much has been made of the discovery of a cockroach at the ad hoc Christmas Island quarantine station the truth is those responsible have done a remarkable job in pulling the operation together at such short notice on a site almost 2,800 km from Darwin.
Things are going to get worse, especially in China, before they get better.
Although it is true Australia and the rest of the world will work through this crisis, just as we did with SARS and Swine Flu, we do have to face up to the fact things are going to get worse, especially in China, before they get better.
As of late Friday more than 30,000 people were infected with 630 deaths reported in China alone. The number of cases is increasing at about 20 per cent per day.
This means that by Wednesday next week more than 60,000 people may be infected and the death toll in China could be approaching 1300.
When you look at it this way it becomes very hard to argue the Australian government, which is being very well advised by our chief medical officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, and other experts, is overreacting.
An ounce of prevention, as the saying goes, is worth a pound of cure.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the crisis to date has been the remarkable resilience of the economy and the stock market both here and overseas given entire Chinese provinces are in lockdown, massive cruise liners are under quarantine, car factories are being shut down in Europe and elsewhere and Macau has closed its casinos for the duration.
It is to be hoped this sense of optimism continues to prevail and that people in Australia and across the globe continue to work closely with health authorities and to follow the hygiene precautions that have been recommended.
Two things we certainly don't need right now are widespread panic and lots of people with dirty hands.