During Victoria's lockdown(s), I re-read The Plague, by Albert Camus, which was a prescribed text for me and other Higher School Certificate students (Year 12) way back in 1972. The plot concerns the Algerian town of Oran, which is struck down by bubonic plague in the 1940s. The townsfolk are sealed off and isolated from the outside world, as the plague exacts an increasingly terrible and deadly toll. The book depicts their different reactions to their situation. It has immense power in getting to the heart of what things, and what values, are important in life.
The plague in Oran, and the coronavirus pandemic in Australia, have some clear differences. While the people of Oran are cut off from the world, they are not cut off from each other. They mix at restaurants and cafes and the like. Social distancing doesn’t play any noticeable role – whether this was wise from a health perspective is not spelt out.