VICTORIA'S spike of coronavirus cases has led the state to reimpose some COVID-19 restrictions and to defer the easing of others, at a time when the push to reopen state boundaries for trade and travel has become a national clamour.
Despite increasing rates of new cases during June, Australia's already remarkable escape from the worst of the pandemic shows in its continued slide down the global scale.
Worldwide, the pace of infection continues to rise, with another daily record of 176,000 new cases recorded twice last week on the Johns Hopkins University dashboard.
Without a vaccine or a miraculous natural weakening of the virus, COVID-19 will surely continue to take its terrible toll. But the health impacts - and the broader economic and employment costs from the shuttering of trade - are not the only negatives.
The longer borders are closed, the greater the potential for international mistrust.
On March 30, PM Scott Morrison predicted COVID-19 could see "countries themselves fall into chaos".
We doubt Mr Morrison had the United States in mind, but US President Donald Trump's many controversies have only increased since coronavirus.
His comment to a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma - that he ordered a slowdown in COVID-19 testing to keep case numbers down - reveals a manipulation of coronavirus data while he accuses others, especially China and the World Health Organisation, of doing the same.
Meanwhile, America burns as the Black Lives Matter protests continue.
We observed the day after Mr Morrison's "nations in chaos" comment that conflict between nations was the ultimate, if unspoken, step in his dire list of possibilities.
His explosive announcement on Friday, that a "state-based cyber actor" was targeting Australia's governments and major commercial enterprises was quickly denounced by China.
Two days earlier, veteran Australian investigative journalist Brian Toohey had warned that being prodded by the US into "full-scale economic warfare against China could easily morph into a full-scale hot war".
Wherever we are now, it's a long way from John Howard's "alert but not alarmed".
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