The recent COVID-19 outbreak has certainly changed a lot for many of us, and around the globe, in many ways. It has seemed to impact numerous industries from healthcare to travel and many more. Spontaneously, it has also opened many avenues and led us to pause for a bit, to ponder and look back at our lifestyles to date and to rejuvenate and start over with a fresh broader perspective.
Following the lockdown, educational institutes have been closed. This has given a chance to children and teenagers to spend more time at home with their families and take part in house chores. This opportunity is not only limited to them but also, the parents working from home to get to know their children better and spend more time with their families. This might be an opportunity to connect and to follow on lost connections. As eateries are shut down, rather some limited to home deliveries, people might just get a chance to cook and bake a lot more at home and might look at healthier eating options, not only giving rest to their digestive systems but also being easy on their pockets. Staying at home and all the boredom it entails might just encourage people to look to a healthier lifestyle, working out at home, to begin with. The abrupt change is not only limited to households, rather this pandemic has blessed the environment with a break, to cleanse. Lockdown has significantly impacted the travel industry, meaningless to no mode of transport on the roads, hence a slower progression towards global warming. Tech companies are the one’s significantly benefiting from this crisis, as people continue to work from home, they need to set up their systems and work stations at their residence and need better bandwidth to cope up with their work tasks. Hence these industries will surge to cater to the demand for equipment and devices people will need to perform their tasks duly and efficiently.
Business assets are not being used due to lockdown and are left idle. Less production has led to lesser goods being available in the market to sell. Developing nations are the most susceptible to an economic crisis, as they do not have a developed e-commerce setup, hence sales are significantly impacted in these countries. In developed countries people trust online shopping as the suppliers are reliable and have a proper infrastructure, goods are delivered on time, hence it is not much of an issue. While developing nations lack this infrastructure, hence are not able to support e-commerce. The stock market, also known as equity, is going downhill. Due to lockdown, there is a traveling restriction, hence there are very few to no flights, leaving the tourism industry vulnerable to collapse. Hence the stock prices of major airlines have decreased due to the reason that their profitability will be diminished significantly. As profitably will decrease future earnings will be less as investors no longer trust them and this will lead to a detrimental effect due to less investment.
Oil prices recently went negative, as in the US there is a lockdown, there is no mode of transport, factories are closed, machinery does not need any oil due to decreased demand for goods. Oil consumption did significantly decrease but its production was not impacted and was in process the same way as before, hence oil stock and supply overflowed, meaning oil was produced more than its requirement, as there wasn’t enough space available to store the excess production of oil. But as we are steadily getting back on track, the prices of oil have started to recover, coming to $30 per barrel, recently. In Pakistan for the past few months, the inflation rate has dropped. Generally, the inflation rate goes up, but the reason for it to decrease is paralyzed economic activity. The inflation rate in Pakistan, as of now is 8%. When the inflation rate decreases, the government matches it to the interest rate. As the inflation rate of Pakistan decreased, the government dropped the interest rate as well. There was a time, 3 months back when the inflation rate was peaking at 13.75%. The equity market is not only failing in Pakistan but also globally.
Recently, Jack Ma stated, this year companies should forget about profitability and in the time to come, they should rather focus on their survival. The stocks of airlines have come down 40-50%, globally. In countries like New Zealand, China, and many others, things have started returning to normal, education, and businesses have commenced. Currently, the e-markets have benefited the most from this crisis. Particularly like, Ali baba, Amazon, and in Pakistan, Daraz. Amazon’s stock price has surged to $2449.33. The scope of online education has boomed. Renowned institutes like Harvard, Stanford are offering free online courses. From this pandemic onwards, this can change the dynamics of quality education. Demand for courier services has also increased, as traveling and mode of transports have been paralyzed, leaving people to opt for courier service providers. Govt of Pakistan also released a package recently, stating, any hospital in the country wanting to import equipment to combat COVID-19 from abroad will be given loans at much more subsidized interest rates, around 3%.
Meanwhile, the actual interest rate was 10%. As the economic activity has significantly been impacted, the GDP is going down, the government of Pakistan introduced a construction relief package. According to that any builder or businessman wanting to do construction in Pakistan, will not be held accountable for investing any black money or untraceable assets. This will encourage investors to invest and builders to take part in such activities, thereby providing slight stability to Pakistan’s economic infrastructure. Steel, paint, and other industries involved in construction will soar as these goods are required for construction work. The actual problem of Pakistan with respect to employment is of Daily wage workers, that will also be eased by such measures.
From 26th February 2020, when the first COVID-19 the case was reported in Pakistan, onwards, the Covid-19 cases have escalated to 45,061, as of 20th May 2020. Pakistan, by 18th March 2020 had reported coronavirus cases from all four provinces. The following fact emphasizes on the need of social distancing and not gathering in congregations despite religious sensitivity, a Tablighi Jamaat, that took place in early March of 2020 is known to have contributed significantly to Covid-19 Cases, that later accounted for about 27% of COVID-19 cases across Pakistan. If Pakistan, were early to take precautionary measures, such as social distancing and implementation of the lockdown at an earlier stage, we would have been able to curtail the current increase in COVID-19 positive cases.
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Post by: Uzzam Ahmed Khawaja4th Year MBBS student, Jinnah Medical and Dental College, Karachi, Pakistan.
Chief Social Media Manager/Student Editor – Pakistan Journal of Surgery and Medicine, Lahore, Pakistan.
COVID-19 Volunteer Research Team Leader – Larkin Community Hospital, South Miami, USA.