Covid-19: A pandemic or Blessing in Disguise?
We are at that part of the climax scene of a movie, where it is the end of the world, bad things have taken over, high-level bombings had been done or like Thanos, snapped away half of the population in a second! The difference is this time the name of the “villain” is Covid-19 aka Coronavirus and as this is not a movie scene, there are much more than only people’s lives. As of 19th July, more than 14 million confirmed cases have been found worldwide, with 605,377 deaths. Affecting in almost every country of the world, the virus has taken away more than only the lives of these people. While the leaders of the earth are yet to take any collective response, the World Economic Forum points out that almost one-third of the world economy has been perished due to this outbreak. However, the pandemic has also pointed out some major mistakes in various industries, and organizations have already started adopting those.
Like the present day, the virus is affecting its 10 millionth victim. Besides affecting all the people’s lives to date, Covid-19 has also adversely affected human lives in every way possible. What makes the disease mostly dangerous is the easy contamination in close contact, being asymptomatic in most cases and its deadly mutating gene which is preventing the scientists to discover any cure or medicine for the virus. Thus, for this disease, people all over the world had been forced towards a lockdown, staying at home to stop the spread of the deadly virus. However, industries, offices, educational institutions and every other place of public gatherings shut down. This lockdown had a severe impact on business industries. The pandemic left a devastating impact on the stock markets.
As the above picture depicts, the Covid-19 has devastated the share market scenario in only five months. The FTSE 100 index has reached its lowest point since November 2011, which indicates a hard hit in economies all around the world. Also, developed and advanced countries like Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US are expected to face a hard recession this year due to the lockdown for this deadly virus.
Due to the closing of factories, plants, industries, and offices, organizations are also cutting off jobs to maintain necessary expenditures. Also, there has been a strict restriction on international flights and other transportations. This also put the import-export business and tourism industry at a standstill. According to the International Labor organization, there will be a 10.5% decrease in working hours of the second quarter of 2020 compared to the working hours of 2019. The organization estimates this will be equivalent to 305m jobs around the world.
Despite these devastating factors, why the title states that Covid-19 is a hero in disguise? Now we will discuss the good impacts that Covid-19 has put into our lives. To adopt this massive change, some of the online and digital tools have helped a great deal for people around the globe. Website and software like – Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Messenger room, Trello, Calendly, Dropbox etc. and even social media like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube have helped a great deal in this scenario of the pandemic. These platforms have made communication, task scheduling, task management and many more organizational tasks easier than ever. There have been changes in other aspects such as the gaming industry has seen high growth, educational sectors all over the world have seen a massive transformation through online learning platforms. The CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella comments that the Covid-19 has forced two years of technological improvement to occur in two months only. Online education portals like Coursera, Udemy, Pluralsight, Scribd etc. started to provide free services because of this pandemic. The usage of online media consumption sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime has also seen a high number of growths in technological usage.
With the home office being the possible alternative solution for the employees, the teleconferencing software like Zoom is seeing massive revenue growth. Although incurring some issues regarding privacy, Zoom saw high growth in the first quarter of 2020, earning a $328m revenue, which is double the profit of last year. The company’s stock prices also raised more than five times from the initial public offerings of 14 months ago, resulting in $213.60. Not only for formal official meetings and communications, but Zoom has also been a highly used software for socializing and educational purposes as well. Microsoft also commented that the number of online software used for online working and remote office work has jumped to more than 40% in the last week of March 2020.
Mobile application sectors have also seen a substantial amount of growth in this pandemic both in iOS and Android platforms. The installation of apps through Google Play store had gone up by 5% and the app installation in iOS went up by 15% in the first quarter of 2020. Consumer’s spending’s in these stores increased by a large number as well. Q1 of 2020 saw a staggering 23.4 billion spending through these digital stores which include gaming categories, entertainment, health, fitness and educational sectors as well.
During the last week of March, there was a 132% increase in the number of installs compared to last year. Gaming apps saw a 47% increase in sessions and a 75% increase in installs in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019.
The streaming industry and other online entertainment services have also seen high growth in stream time and subscriptions. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu etc. all streaming services are expected to grow by almost 30% as people are staying indoors in social isolation. Netflix alone has struck 16 million new subscriptions which are double than what was forecasted for this year. The firm had to reduce the quality of the videos in European countries to reduce the pressure on the internet service providers as an unusual number of people started streaming at his time of lockdown.
The video games industry also achieves a 35% growth in March 2020 only. The report published by National Purchase Diary Panel Inc. shows that the software sales in April grew to $739 million and hardware gaming components also achieved an overall growth of 63%. Besides e-sports, the online game streaming industry has also seen high growth as most people find it as an alternative source of entertainment in this pandemic situation.
Amazon, being a leader in the e-commerce industry worldwide, has faced such growth in the year 2020 that it has been forced to hire 100,000 warehouse workers to meet the rising demands of the customers. As most of the retail shops had to be closed worldwide, eCommerce had become the only solution for the customers to get the required products. Sales of amazon soared up to 26% in the first quarter of the pandemic year of 2020. Another e-commerce giant Alibaba also saw a 22% sales growth in March amidst this lockdown scenario. This has also shaped up the e-payment systems as physical money is no longer being used for payments of online services. Not only online shops, rather physical stores like Walmart have also started to adopt the cashier fewer payment services which can be done through automated software with the mobile phone of customers.
Public health and medical sector have been the talk of the town in this severe situation of the health crisis. Doctors and hospitals are doing their best to tackle the massive pressure due to the Covid-19 outbreak, however, physical health services are falling short of its capacity as the spread rate of the virus is too high. In this scenario, the telemedicine industry also faced boom as mass people are now more comfortable taking appointments with doctors at home and consulting via video conferencing services. A
survey shows that 75% of the corona affected patients do not need to physically consult with a doctor as general remedies and self-isolation can serve as the best cure for the people. Online appointments, home delivery of medications and medical equipment have been found as a better alternative as in most of the countries, the health sector has not been developed with proper infrastructure to deal with the rising number of Covid-19 patients.
While the global scenario is seeing this trend, the scenario is also quite similar in the case of Bangladesh. With joint effort from government and welfare organizations like – UNICEF, the little learners in Bangladesh have faced major disruption in the learning process. Students and teachers are now connected through digital media such as National Television, Facebook, YouTube or Zoom and overcoming the boundaries of prevention from physical educational institutions. Office hours have also changed in most of the workplaces, forcing the employees to conduct most of the work from home and join office on a roster basis. The growth of online payment services has also been on the rise as two leading digital financial solutions – Bkash and Nagad, take have taken the opportunity of auto-opening accounts in all the telecom numbers in Bangladesh. These accounts can be digitally verified by the users from home with the digital National Identification Card. Telemedicine services like “Tonic” from Grameenphone, “Doctor koi”, Government regulated emergency hotline numbers have taken the responsibilities to serve patients through audio calls or video conferences. Although the growth of these technological measures taken by Bangladesh is not noteworthy in each sector, the country is taking baby steps and hopefully will rise along to adopt with the changes that Covid-19 has forced upon in various industries.
All these growth in the digital industry would have occurred eventually in the upcoming years. However, the urgency and the instant change in people’s lifestyles due to hard lockdown for coronavirus pandemic, these technological usages have been forced to occur in only six months. All the previous pandemic situations in the world, have taught lessons to humanity, and human lives have adapted accordingly. Covid-19, with no doubt, has taken a great number of lives away from earth. But this virus has also provided a lot of learnings to us as well, in terms of digitalization, health and safety, sanitization and much more. The sooner we try to implement and adapt to this change, the better will be the upcoming days, otherwise, the virus will take away more lives through infection and many more through an economic depression.