Ward C19 in Canberra Hospital has a calmness punctuated by laughter.
If one of the nurses coughs, the others laugh loudly and say: "There's Rona."
"Rona" is their joke name for the coronavirus.
"Humour is what gets you through the day," the nurse in charge, Vanessa Hoban, says.
There is dark humour plus modesty from people just doing a job for patients: "They call us their angels but we downplay that very quickly.
"Patients don't want to see a nurse who's doomy and gloomy. They want to see a nurse who is positive and who will encourage them in a positive way - and having a giggle is the best medicine."
The laughter glues the heroic team of doctors and nurses plus cleaners and other staff together.
Literally keeping an eye on them all are "spotters" who watch to see there are no gaps in the system.
"They make sure that gloves are on right - hair covers; shoe covers," Dr Ian Marr says.
A spotter watches him put on his robe and follows his course through the patient area and then back out to disrobe and put on a fresh robe.
Mrs Hoban reckons she changes into a new set of protective gear - gowned and degowned - 20 times a day.
Ward C19 has 26 beds, each in separate rooms so patients can't infect each other. There is no contact between them.
Patients are inside a plastic hood over the bed. "They don't see anyone else. It's very lonely," the nurse said. They are allowed video calls to family and friends to help mitigate the loneliness.
And the fear. "There's a degree of fear about what's about to happen to them," Dr Marr said. "Most of these people have not been in hospital before.
"There are lots of new things but then the fear about what COVID can do."
Some patients feel a stigma, though Dr Marr thinks that is waning.
Some feel a needless guilt. They wonder what they did to get the thing. Some who recover don't tell anyone they had COVID.
Both the doctor and nurse recognise the mental effects of the illness. Their work is not just about the medicines. There is psychology, too.
MORE COVID-19 NEWS:
"I think it affects people mentally. 'Why did I get it'? 'Did I pass it on to my children'? These are the questions patients ask themselves. There's a lot of sadness and depression," Mrs Hoban said.
Those who end up in Canberra and Calvary hospitals are, obviously, the most seriously ill, but there are then a host of infected people being treated in their homes by Dr Marr and his colleagues.
They are phoned every day and there's a video call if the situation demands it. Each patient is given a kit to monitor pulses, oxygen levels in the blood and temperatures. The results help the medical team assess the risk. If the readings go out of line, the patient comes into the hospital.
There have been 11 deaths in Canberra and more than 1600 cases. Patients stay in hospital for anything from two days to three weeks.
Patients are invariably grateful to these "angels". "The patients' feedback has been very positive," Mrs Hoban said.
Amid the gallows humor and just getting on with the job, there is a quiet pride, certainly from those who know the health workers.
"My family is very proud of me. They love boasting about me," Mrs Hoban says, before adding: "I don't like that."
"I treat this just as any other time in my career: roll your sleeves up and get the job done."
MORE COVID-19 NEWS:
That career started 20 years ago after an education at Holt Primary School, Ginninderra High School, Canberra Institute of Technology and then the University of New England before coming home to nurse in Canberra.
As they look ahead, she and Dr Marr assert confidence as Canberra and Australia relax rules.
Dr Marr thinks there will be more cases "but that doesn't necessarily translate into an increase in hospital cases".
"There would be some rise but we are ready for that. It's hard to predict how big that rise would be," he said.
Mrs Hoban was less measured. She thinks this crisis will pass, saying: "I think the pandemic is just a hiccup. It is what it is but there have been wars. There have been famines, bushfires, mice and this is just another direction of life."
Rona will be beaten!
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: