It was announced the economy contracted by 2% in the first quarter of this year, and by 5.8% in March alone.
The Treasury is estimating that the cost of the coronavirus to the country will be £300bn this year, leaving the economy in the worst position since the Second World War.
And yet still some question why the government is asking us to go back to work, especially as there has been no appreciable reduction in the threat posed by the virus. Surely, they ask, people's health should come before the economy? Why put wealth before health?
The situation is not simply about the wealth of the nation. The country is heading into recession. A deep recession will leave millions on the dole, leading to a growing number of people falling into poverty. This in turn will have an adverse effect on physical and mental health, the consequences of which may be worse than the virus. Rising unemployment would also inevitably lead to falling tax revenues, meaning less money available to fund the NHS or the ongoing research into a vaccine.
The virus will be in our midst for months to come and we will have to adapt the way we live and work until or if a vaccine is found. The lockdown has given the NHS the time it needed to prepare. The doctors, nurses and numerous front line staff have shouldered the burden to date. It is time for the rest of us to share that burden, and work to ensure the ongoing health of the nation.
13th May 2020