OPINION: Coronavirus fears have us desperately seeking leadership

At a time of crisis when the country needs leadership and direction, many are scouring social media for insights into how best to prepare ourselves for the onslaught of coronavirus.

Forget herd immunity, it's herd instinct taking over with the purchase of everything people seem to feel they will need for the next six months - or a year or two in the case of toilet rolls.

Those of us in the southern part of the state will never forget the summer of 2020.

The mixed messages we received in those early days left us shocked and in some cases not fully prepared for the physical and mental firestorm we had to face.

It left us desperate for information and I well remember trawling social media at 3am on Sunday morning, January 5 only to discover many other people I knew were doing exactly the same.

It wasn't until we had that clear direction from the RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons that we started to fully comprehend the enormity of what we faced, and could face.

There was a real light bulb moment for myself and others as we heard Marty Webster tell as it was at Nethercote Hall on January 16.

Mr Webster told residents to try and manage their anxiety, but warned they had to be in for the long haul.

"People have still got to live their lives with this beast hanging around in our backyard and I know that's not easy."

His words could just as well apply today as we face the coronavirus.

But we appear to be in the mixed message phase.

While experts talk of social distancing and practising good hand hygiene to try and prevent the spread of the virus, on Monday, March 16 the NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres was urging people to take a trip into rural NSW.

Now is the time to tell it as it is and ideally from someone who relies on science, not opinion polls, for guidance.

It may not be pleasant listening, but we need to understand what we face. Should we lock down communities particularly where health facilities may not be able to cope?

If ever there was a time for some straight talking from a medical expert, it is now.

And in the absence of a medical guru, Commissioner, is your first aid certificate up to date? Would you mind?