Kristina Keneally (Image: AAP/Dan Himbrechts)

Since Kristina Keneally blamed lockdown frustration for her Fowler loss, Australia’s political commentariat has been giving her a right Mandy Rice-Davies going over with a "Well, she would, wouldn't she?”

But let’s hang on a minute, there’s a deeper truth to be taken out of her comments. In our rush to put COVID behind us, we've never had the needed reckoning with the actual lived experience of the pandemic on communities hit hardest by the way governments managed outbreaks.

Let's go back to the beginning, in early-pandemic Wuhan. Just before Australia’s election kicked off, Australian publisher Hardie Grant released Murong Xuecun’s Deadly Quiet City. In all the words written about the pandemic, it’s that rarest of things: a bottom-up telling of eight how-it-happened stories about people in Wuhan at “COVID Ground Zero”.