06:53 GMT16 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Tan Hooi Ling — a co-founder of Grab ride-hailing company, operating in Southeast and East Asia — on Thursday urged businesses to save cash and prepare for the situation in which the virus that caused the pandemic of the COVID-19 lung disease stays for long.

    "Today, if you look at the cities that used to be notorious for traffic jams, like Jakarta and Manila, you will now see empty roads. It means that our driver-partners' incomes are falling, and their livelihoods and ability to support their families are equally impacted … What our partners are going through is only a microcosm of what is happening in the wider economy. There is a need to actively conserve cash and prepare for what may be a very long winter," Tan told a virtual briefing of the World Health Organization's regional office for Western Pacific.

    She noted that the pandemic has prompted changes to the patterns of customer behaviour, which will define the new normal.

    "There will be an increased focus on digitalization. Consumers will remain cautious about venturing out even when the lockdowns [are eased]. This means that they will continue to rely on digital channels for their everyday lives … Post-COVID consumers will likely prioritize food and beverage outlets that have stringent hygiene standards and may opt for means of transportation that are perceived to lower the risk of exposure," Tan said.

    The global tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases has exceeded 4.3 million, with the number of fatalities nearing 300,000.

    cash, pandemic, coronavirus, COVID-19, Asia, business
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