By now most people are aware that the pandemic generated by the pathogenic novel coronavirus we now call Covid-19 is a serious threat to Australia and its people.

This is a highly infectious and potentially life-threatening disease for which no ready preventive or remedial treatments exist – apart from a combination of acute intensive hospital care and the ability of an individual’s immune system to repel the invader over a two-week period.

The spread of the virus in even the best-prepared countries – even this one – has been alarming.

Despite what appears to be sensible and sometime extreme counter-measures the contagion has continued to spread with a mathematical geometric progression.

While it is perhaps comforting to know that there are informed suggestions that 80 per cent of the cases of those unfortunately infected will be mild, 15 per cent of affected people will need treatment in hospital and five per cent will require intensive care the progress of the contagion around the globe shows that numbers of potential victims of this primitive, mindless virus (which cannot survive outside a host cell) are huge.

It is in the potential of mass population harm that the other grim feature of this crisis plays out: serious economic disruption.

The twin aspects of the covid-19 pandemic; population health and the consequent economic disruption have become the main focus of government concern and attention around the globe.

We are all familiar with the public health warnings and mitigation attempts by officialdom and, increasingly, now we are seeing the adverse impacts being caused by the virus outbreak on trade, manufacturing, retail sales, tourism and major sporting, community and entertainment events.

The State and Federal governments of Australia have made earnest
efforts to respond to the harmful consequences of the virus to the essential business and financial underpinnings of the nation.

Billions of dollars in supportive and remedial assistance will flow in coming months to keep the Australian economic engine ticking over.

Many of the schemes will be aimed at ensuring jobs and social security protection to help individuals, families and communities weather the uncertain times ahead.

Such moves by our state and federal leaders are welcome.

But, already, there is recognition that the scale of the task may require even more billions.

There is no question that government assistance of all types will be needed for the weeks and, perhaps, months ahead.

Unfortunately, it is also undeniable that such official responses will still fall short when it comes to meeting the demands and difficulties which are now being felt and faced by businesses, institutions and organisations of all types.

The depth and potential of the Narrabri Shire economy was recently held up to be an exemplar of how a country area has demonstrated resilience and confidence in tough times.

But, we should not gloss over the fact that many small and medium businesses in our Shire are facing some of their toughest times.

Small businesses in an area such as this have always provided the range and employment and growth drivers which have provided futures and opportunities for many hundreds of families.

In cold economic terms, success or failure in small business enterprises is a matter of dependable service, good marketing and good integration with the community at large.

The impositions of the Covid-19 virus on our social and economic structure are beyond the powers of most small business operators to counteract. The effect of supply-chain failure, cash-flow pressures, dwindling customer flow, and an ability to continue paying loyal staff are just some of the stresses now being imposed on many businesses in communities such as ours.

All of us, in some way, are – or will be – affected by the dreadful scourge of the coronavirus.

But, at such a time there is a need for communities such as ours to rally in support of those businesses which have helped build our town and contributed to the pride and well-being of the whole area.

In this difficult time we, as a community, should focus on sharing the burdens imposed by this viral malignancy and support the businesses and organisations who provide so much to the towns and district we love.

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