KASB COVID-19 UPDATE: On the bright side


Pakistan’s first case was documented on the 26th Feb, the UK had 16 cases and then and the US had 60. So far, (Thanks to Allah) we have avoided the same growth. Admittedly the statistics on infection might be unreliable due to lack of testing but as the chart below shows, our deaths also have been much lower than these countries. Globally the deaths have now exceeded 53,000 with over 1m infections. 40% of the infected are in the US.

In France, the number of deaths in March, were lower than what it had in 2018 due to influenza outbreak. In China, the government is encouraging people by giving them consumption vouchers to go back to restaurants.

We hosted a conference call with Bob Zhang from Pine Street Capital in Beijing and Yinyan Huang from Eastspring Investment in Shanghai. Key lessons from Chinese experience is how they used technology and a community-based approach to identify cases and monitor and eventually control the spread of the virus. Yinyan showed her WeChat ID where she was marked as “green” identifying that she is safe. She is required to show that before entering her office or community building. Yellow tagged are forced to self quarantine for 14 days and the red ones are taken to quarantine center for treatment. Community based measures where cities are divided into grids for management was also an effective strategy use by New York in 1917.

We think Pakistan will have to open the lockdown by the mid of April, but strict health monitoring measures will be required. In the UK and Europe, PMI numbers for March have slipped to 20 year lows – indicating deepest recession ever.

Our speakers highlighted electric vehicles, ecommerce and healthcare/pharma as the sectors which will benefit from the crisis. I agree with Yinyan’s view that while the lockdowns will slowly open, the critical differentiator would be how quickly can governments upgrade their health infrastructure. The experience of China shows that demand for masks, and other personal hygiene products will remain high.

Some of the economic measures now announced by the PM are exactly what he had promised during his campaigns. This is another silver lining as it seems that the crisis has enabled the government to cut through the bureaucratic red tape.

We pray for the good health of you and your families.


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