When events are cascading faster than standard calculation allows, routine responses seldom suffice.
We are facing a crisis where we build the circumstances of either failure or success. Health Minister Simon Harris has said the coronavirus outbreak could become very serious, given its rapid escalation.
In short, family, work and school life could all be severely disrupted. The sort of European crowd-control measures we are witnessing in France and Italy are inevitable.
The rescheduling of parades and other major social and sporting events is going to have significant commercial fallout. However, these big set-pieces can be re-booted - the same cannot be said for human life.
Whatever needs to be done now, no matter how disappointing or inconvenient, to protect the vulnerable and keep the pressure off our health services, must be facilitated.
Medical professionals identify a "golden hour" which is the period of time after a trauma where there is the highest likelihood of life being saved. We have the power now to make critical decisions which we may not have in another few days. There is no reason for alarm but there is every reason to be alert to the lessons learned in other countries. The IMF has called for a co-ordinated international response to the surging financial cost the outbreak is racking up.
One would wish to see world leaders advocating a similar global approach and solidarity of intent in the business of saving lives; where co-ordination and co-operation are even more crucial.
After all, economies can also be rebuilt.
It will be some time before there is a cure for this virus, but until there is, we must countenance every measure that is practical to keep it in check.
There were gasps globally yesterday when plunging stock markets necessitated a 15-minute trading halt. When the markets were hit, the world sat up and paid attention. Is it naive to hope equal focus might be given to the vulnerable?
The economic impact will no doubt be severe, but we must also focus on other values.
What can we best do to take care of each other and to make sure those who need help get it?
We must hope the worsening pace of the spread of the virus will force the pace of government formation talks.
For reasons best known to themselves both Micheál Martin and the Taoiseach appear convinced that there is no viable alternative to the present standoff. But a goal without a deadline has no potency. A beginning or an end has to be identified.
In the words of Martin Luther King: "We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action." They need to show some resolve. A week from St Patrick's Day, when this small country is the fleeting focus of the world, we need to demonstrate we still have a national spirit that shows best in the face of adversity.