Despite Australians having a strong record of working with political leaders, health authorities, and the police, to keep the coronavirus at bay, signs are emerging the number of people who put themselves before the rest of the community is on the rise.
Recent protests in Sydney against both mask wearing and the imposition of lockdowns in some hot spots, people "escaping" from hotel quarantine in the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and elsewhere, and the like, suggest more could be done to reinforce the social cohesion that has put Australia in a world-leading position.
There has also been an increase in the level of anti-vaxxer chatter that, if left unchecked, could compromise the roll-out of the national COVID-19 inoculation program due to begin in late February.
Locally police, who have been tasked with the difficult job of manning border checkpoints for the first time since the pandemic began, have reported at least two incidents in which individuals have tried to evade the RBT-style roadblocks. As a result of one of these a 32-year-old woman from Taylor has faced court accused of failing to stop, resisting a public official, and dangerously passing police.
There have also been at least two reports of "flagrant breaches" of home quarantine measures - presumably involving people who have returned from hotspots and red zones - in Canberra.
These come on top of disturbing scenes of public disorder around the city over the weekend as hoons staged street races and burnouts on public roads following the decision to cancel Summernats. Some went so far as to let off fireworks in close proximity to the Hume Caltex service station. Then, on Saturday night, NSW police had to lock down the village of Eagle Hawk on the outskirts of the ACT after 1000 people and hundreds of cars descended on the area.
The individuals involved in these incidents desperately need to grow up. Australia is in the grip of a national crisis. A few months ago the Republic of Ireland had an enviable record of managing the virus that bore comparison to our own. As of Tuesday that country had one of the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 infections anywhere in the world. This is because the UK strain, which Australia's latest round of border closures and lockdowns are intended to contain, got out of hand.
This new variant, which is rapidly becoming the dominant strain of COVID-19 across the globe, is much more infectious than anything medical experts have encountered so far. If it did get loose into the community in Australia the efficacy of our first lines of defence - handwashing, masks in enclosed spaces, social distancing and the like - would be seriously challenged.
Let's try to avoid that fate by doing the right thing. We are already seeing restrictions begin to ease with case numbers continuing to trend in the right direction in NSW and Victoria and with the "short and sharp" Queensland lockdown having apparently done the job it was intended to do.
Experience has shown the medical experts, the national cabinet, and the various premiers and chief ministers are on top of the crisis. A willingness to seek, and accept, the best scientific advice, a commendable degree of cross-jurisdictional co-operation, despite some well publicised differences, and - most importantly of all - the active cooperation of the broader population has kept millions of people safe and well.
These are all worthy things to celebrate when Australia Day rolls around in a few weeks time. Now is not the time to drop the ball.