There is nothing like nature for upending our certainties and showing us how threadbare society's comfort blankets really are.
There is also nothing like a strong community working together for demonstrating the force of the human spirit.
Anxiety at what is still a new and largely unknown health hazard is understandable.
But there is reassurance to be taken from the steps others have made to limit its impact.
So far 100,300 people have been infected by the coronavirus globally and over 3,400 people have died.
Mainland China accounted for more than 3,000 deaths, while the toll in Italy stood at 148. There are 85 countries outside China reporting infection. The stringent efforts made in China are showing clear results.
The central province of Hubei (excluding the capital Wuhan) has reported zero new cases for the first time over 24 hours.
While Beijing was earlier under fire for its secretive response which may have exacerbated the spread of the virus, its subsequent outreach in terms of knowledge and medical aid could be valuable in the days to come. In our ever smaller global village, fear manages to fill whatever space it is given, and nothing drives that better than ignorance.
The only advice worth paying attention to is that coming from health professionals.
During a time of uncertainty people have a habit of trying to secure themselves by asserting control. The instinct may be primal but it is misplaced in this context. Following guidelines and maintaining a sense of proportion and perspective is extremely important.
Stocking up on supplies based on ungrounded fears there will be food shortages is irrational. Giving in to hoarding impulses feeds into the 'I'm alright, Jack' mentality which is harmful to the public good. Shoppers are urged to act with moderation. Hospitals and nursing homes, among others, should have high priority when products are delivered.
Nothing is surer to blunt the finer edges of altruism than scarcity caused by selfishness.
Whatever hardship restrictions cause in the short term will balance out.
As Aneurin Bevan, founder of the NHS, famously remarked: "I would rather be kept alive in the efficient if cold altruism of a large hospital than expire in a gush of warm sympathy in a small one."
It is going to take tenacious efforts across a spectrum of agencies to cope with the effects of the virus. It is hard to predict how far the impact will spread. This country has survived far greater challenges and now is not the time for a suspension of reason.