(Image: AAP/Dean Lewins)

Australia was still in the grip of the bushfire crisis when the first media reports emerged about a new virus in Wuhan, China.

"Chinese health authorities are trying to identify what is causing an outbreak of pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan, officials say, after the tally of cases rose to 44," the ABC reported on January 4, just days after China had -- reluctantly -- "fessed up" to the World Health Organisation about it.

At that point we were still talking about Scott Morrison forcing people to shake hands, and the abuse being meted out to him over his failure of leadership over December and between Christmas and New Year. Two days later, he announced a $2 billion bushfire recovery package, amid questions about whether the budget surplus he had declared "delivered" would still arrive.