A Message to APABI Members Regarding the COVID-19 Outbreak


Bill Gates has said that COVID-19 may be the “once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about.” Many countries have been caught unprepared for a pandemic of this scale. It is important to maintain situational awareness in order to plan and execute an effective response for yourself and your business. Here are some key numbers to watch:

  • The doubling time for new cases. The overall number of cases simply indicates the timing of the outbreak, not the eventual severity. If your area still has a low caseload, use the time wisely to prepare.
  • The ratio of positive results to all test results. This shows you how far behind the authorities are. If the ratio is 10% or above, it means that testing is being done reactively, rather than proactively. In South Korea, for instance, that number is 2.7% (as of March 23). Many Asian countries with high population density and little health infrastructure are at risk of ‘stealth outbreaks.’
  • The ultimate measure of spread is the number of clusters. Most countries are still too overwhelmed to distinguish individual clusters, but in the meantime, beware of large-scale gatherings of people, especially if some may have traveled substantial distances to get there. These may become the next clusters.

Remember that any protection measures you take are not just for your own benefit: if you get infected, you will infect an average of 2.8 other people. The banking sector will play an important role in managing this crisis, but its primary responsibility is to not contribute to it. Wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay at home if sick, avoid handshakes, and see a doctor if you have a fever and dry cough.

We wish all member countries a safe next few months and a speedy recovery thereafter.