When trust is strong, communication is said to be easiest and most effective.
There should always be absolute confidence in managing government messaging but when people are anxious or uncertain, as is the case in confronting the coronavirus, it becomes a grave responsibility.
There is little we can do about external factors such as worrying forecasts for world economic growth, also prompted by the health crisis.
Yet we should at least be able to control the release of crucial public health information. But the handling of information on the reported case here fell down badly, by any reckoning.
Media organisations were forced to retract stories only to learn later they were correct.
Health Minister Simon Harris has admitted officials were wrong to classify a HSE-issued letter about the case as a "fake".
Mr Harris said they had "acted in good faith" - however, such a climbdown is far from good enough. In mitigation he claimed they were "responding to what was a very dynamic situation".
Again, not good enough. People are depending on the integrity of official sources.
Accurate information will be vital to keeping the country safe in the coming days. But Mr Harris appeared to gloss over the error by further insisting: "The important thing not to be lost here is the public information here, which is that the letter is true, and that the precautionary measures to be taken have now been put in place."
The "important thing to remember" is that something that was true was denied.
This is completely unsatisfactory.
The Department of Health went so far as to issue a statement saying it was aware of "fake letters" circulating. When a genuine letter is officially dismissed as a hoax, people will inevitably begin to question what they are told. This is why open and total disclosure must be reinforced.
Political and public health leaders have an obligation to keep the public calm.
Incorrect declarations - however unintentional - could have the effect of undermining public compliance when it is needed most.
When an error is made, it is important to admit it, to provide explanations why it happened, and to provide sound grounds for believing it won't happen again.
Now is not a time to be defensive or reactive and tactical, anything other than a clear strategic overview represents a failure. We are in a containment phase and hopefully will remain so.
But our efforts in the next two weeks to stop the spread of the virus can leave no room for sloppiness.
There must be reliable channels of communication at all times.
We are likely to see a succession of moves to postpone, cancel or downsize major social and sporting events in the coming days.
We've also been told to prepare for more cases.
The only way to face a crisis is together. In order to do so, full and open disclosure is a must.