The current coronavirus crisis is being compared to the devastating 1919 pneumonic influenza pandemic that reached Australia in early 1919.
Known as the Spanish flu it killed between 30 and 100 million people across the world.
A slightly milder strain came to Australia. It still killed around 15,000 Australians, and infected around 2 million in a population of 5 million.
As with today, governments stepped in although, in 1919, they acted earlier.
Their attempts to contain the disease included inoculation (a strategy that is not yet available for the coronavirus), travel restrictions, quarantine, the closing of public events and institutions, the use of fumigators and the requirement to wear masks in particular circumstances.
The regulations were played out at state and at community level.
In Maitland, early in February 1919 when it was known that the disease was infecting people in Australia, an inoculation program was initiated and action taken to find a suitable site for the quarantine and care of victims.
It was clear that the Maitland Hospital isolation wards were not suitable.
The Maitland Benevolent Asylum (now known as Benhome) in Regent Street, home for the long-term ill and indigent, was selected.
With the diagnosis of the first influenza patients in early April, the 16 Asylum residents were provided with temporary accommodation in the back building of the Maitland Technical College (what is now the Maitland Regional Art Gallery).
Over the next eight months, there was a growing number of cases of influenza. The Benevolent Asylum reached a peak of 39 patients in early July.
Those in contact with infected people were quarantined at home. The Maitland Mercury invariably named those who caught the disease, provided accounts of their places of residence, and when they came down with the illness.
Assistance came from medical and nursing staff and volunteers.
From early on, women from the War Chest Depot were making and distributing masks made from butter cloth.
Dr RG Alcorn was giving inoculations at Maitland Town Hall. School children collected fresh eggs for the Benevolent Asylum.
Mrs WJ Gillies (formerly Sister ED De Boose from Maitland Hospital) took charge of the care of patients at the Benevolent Asylum. She was assisted by hospital nursing staff. Individuals were recruited to work as cook, ambulance driver, wardsman and gardener at the Benevolent Asylum.
Maitland Hospital's Matron Skuthorpe organised sessions on home nursing that attracted over 50 women willing to acquire and share skills and, when demands on the Hospital itself resulted in a shortage of nurses, a number of young women from the community volunteered to assist.
Fighting and containing the disease was a community effort.
Deaths from the disease peaked in June and July. The deaths included Mollie Carr, a young nurse caring for patients at the Benevolent Asylum, and Adele Hollywood, wife of James Joseph Hollywood one of the doctors working to contain the pandemic.
By September 1919, the pandemic had been contained. The Maitland Benevolent Asylum's role as an Isolation Hospital ceased. Restrictions were eased.