Editor’s comment: This will prove to be a test of our humanity

A man on the London Underground wearing a protective facemask. Picture: PA

A man on the London Underground wearing a protective facemask. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

So it looks like this time around the virus scare is the real thing and it will be a time for humanity to show its mettle.

At the time of writing the number of deaths from coronavirus Covid-19 is growing daily, as is the wider disruption it is causing.

Make no mistake, quarantine measures covering cities in China and the entirety of Italy are no small thing.

The markets fell dramatically on Monday and those slumps won't be the last.

There is a long way to go before confidence is restored.

The full ramifications are impossible to predict but Flybe won't be the final casualty.

But in a more tangible way, the virus will have an impact in our streets.

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Some will experience illness, and worse, and many will 'self-isolate' (the word that will join 'coronavirus' in our children's classroom dictionaries when this is done).

It will be a good time to become good neighbours.

I know the names of the people living in the flats above and below me only through their mail.

Were one of us to self-isolate, I hope that the others will make the effort to offer assistance with delivering groceries or medicines.

Or will Amazon and Ocado save us all?

More importantly, there are a great many vulnerable people in our society and after years of austerity public services are already stretched.

We all need to be aware of those around us and ready to help, otherwise isolation will mean many people will find themselves genuinely alone, even in this age of digital interconnectedness.

As a society we'll no doubt weather the storm, but let's try to weather it well.

Then we can focus our attention on vital issues such as climate change and, if we must, Brexit.

The NHS's latest online advice on coronavirus can be found at 111.nhs.uk/covid-19