While the coronavirus has claimed its first death in Orange an even deadlier virus, the Spanish flu, swept through the city and the region 101 years ago.
With the city's population only 7000 at the time it was reported it affected one in every 46 people.
Orange and District Historical Society historian Liz Edwards recorded the deadly spread of the virus in the first few months of 1919 in her medical history book In Sickness and in Health: How Medicine Helped Shape Orange's History.
Ms Edwards said it placed a great strain on Orange's then-only hospital The Orange District Hospital in Anson Street between Prince and Dalton streets.
The flu came to Australia with soldiers returning from WWI in January 1919.
She said it most likely came to Orange with the visit of an infected railway worker in early 1919 who stayed at the (now closed) Carrington Hotel where he likely infected four staff.
The Dubbo Dispatch newspaper recorded on April 22 1919 the Orange hospital saw 175 patients with the flu of which seven died.
"One in every 46 people resident in Orange had been a victim to the epidemic," it said.
Other reports suggest the death rate, including people dying at home, could have been as high as 14-15.
In those days newspaper reporting of the epidemic was far different than today.
Every person who tested positive to the virus was named in the press. There are reports flags were flown outside their houses to warn others away.
Ms Edwards said the NSW Department of Public Health issued instructions for the public to keep away from crowds, avoid coughers, spitters and sneezers, go out in the fresh air, be temperate in eating and avoid alcohol, wash hands and face on returning home, change clothes before mingling with family members, take regular exercise and keep the mouth and teeth clean.
"Theatres and cinemas were closed in Sydney but strangely, they remained open in country towns," she said.
"Orange Voluntary Aid Detachment volunteers made masks from wire and mosquito netting and saturated them with disinfectant to sell to the public as well as issuing instructions to people wishing to make their own masks."
And on May 26 the Orange Leader reported it was all over. Orange was free from flu.
HAVE YOUR SAY
- Send us a letter to the editor using the form below ...