Amid all the worrying developments concerning the spread of coronavirus, it beggars belief that our health authorities find it necessary to remind people to stop ignoring the advice on maintaining social distance.
People were going about their ordinary lives in the centre of Belfast yesterday and in other parts of Northern Ireland there were reports that coffee shops and cafes were busy with customers.
However, to reinforce the point about social distancing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the closure of restaurants, cafes and public houses. He underlined yet again that people need to keep apart physically
First Minister Arlene Foster has also emphasised that halting social life will help to prevent deaths, and Health Minister Robin Swann has warned that the impending surge of the virus could be of "biblical" proportions with up to 15,000 coronavirus-related deaths here.
This is all against a global backdrop of over 268,000 cases so far, with almost 11,200 deaths. Italy now has over 4,000 fatalities, even more than the 3,248 deaths in China, where the first outbreak occurred. In Spain there have been more than 1,000 deaths, which underlines that Europe is now the epicentre of the outbreaks
This weekend the world is facing a catastrophe not seen since the Second World War and, for all our 21st century sophistication, we are at the mercy of a minute virus that we can't even see. We have all been warned about the dangers, and we need to heed that warning right now.
This is not just a matter of self-preservation, but also of the welfare of others including the heroic health workers who will face at first-hand the full onslaught of casualties. How welcome it is to see them being reimbursed with their three days' strike pay.
We cannot thank all the medical, nursing and other healthcare staff enough for their courageous work on the front line and we must also do our bit by adhering to the advice on social distancing and other preventative measures. For all of us it could be a matter of life and death.