The broad reports on the effects of the coronavirus have focused on the medical and human cost of the outbreak, but it is well to remember that there may be a considerable economic burden too, with the latest estimates suggesting that the pandemic may cost around one in six jobs in Northern Ireland.
any people are already experiencing the sharp economic impact of the lockdown. All but essential businesses and services have been closed temporarily and tens of thousands of employees are now out of work and learning to survive in straitened financial times.
Many of those out of work are self-employed in jobs ranging from taxi driving to music-making and entertainment.
The government has outlined generous initiatives to help soak up some of the pain and to provide some much-needed support in these unprecedented times. These include paying up to 80% of the wages to people whose employers have been forced to close down temporarily and also the self-employed.
However, this offer of help poses very complex bureaucratic problems and, in the case of the self-employed, they will not see any tangible results until June. Almost inevitably, some people will fall through the supportive net.
Nearly all economic commentators forecast a virtually inevitable recession which may last long after the coronavirus plays itself out. Even in a recession some people, in particular the business and economic sectors, may recover relatively quickly, but unfortunately the future seems uncertain for many other people.
The government may be required to produce more assistance and aid as the medical and economic crises continue, and it is the crucial role of Westminster and the Stormont Executive to do all they can to protect the economic welfare of our citizens, particularly on the jobs and economic fronts. This is no easy task in the midst of the ongoing crisis.
We all have to accept daunting economic challenges lie ahead and we must all pay a price, whether through employment or higher taxes.
Some may believe the crisis is a welcome and unscheduled holiday, but nothing could be further from the truth.
They should use this time to acquire new job skills through online courses and also look very carefully at their financial situation and any savings they have. So much is unknown but one of the main certainties is that there are tough times ahead of us.