COVID-19 risk high in crowded shopping areas, DOH warns
MANILA, Philippines — Worried about the crowding of shoppers in Manila’s Divisoria area last weekend, the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday warned the public that the risk of acquiring COVID-19 from such situations is “very high.”
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that while it is understandable for people to get excited about Christmas, this should not be a reason for complacency against the coronavirus.
“The risk is very high so we should avoid going to crowded places,” she said, adding that wearing a face mask or face shield will not work if a person is in crowds where physical distancing is nonexistent.
Vergeire explained that this is the reason why the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has not approved mass gatherings.
She urged people to shop online instead of doing physical shopping. Online shopping provides lesser risk of getting infected or passing the virus to others, she said.
Even with two key cities seeing a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, Vergeire said the country’s trend, in general, is “plateauing” with less than 2,000 new cases daily.
The country’s critical care utilization rate is also in “moderate risk” at 50 to 53 percent.
“In general, we see that this is a good indication for us. It means that our health system is able to cope with the cases that we are having,” she said at a press briefing.
Vergeire gave assurance that the government is closely monitoring some areas for increasing cases, citing Davao City and Cebu City in particular.
Davao, she noted, is already implementing measures, including the establishment of One Hospital Command – a networking system to rationalize the distribution of COVID-19 patients in hospitals to contain further spread.
It is also implementing Oplan Kalinga, a setup where recovered patients are transferred from the hospitals to facilities for the “step-down” quarantine and care.
Both measures are intended to decongest overcrowding in hospitals to ensure their critical care utilization is managed well.
As for Cebu City, Vergeire said the government is still investigating the reasons for the rise in cases.
“In general, our cases continuously plateau with less that 2,000 cases per day while our health system is able to cope (with the increase). Our critical care, in general, is moderate risk,” Vergeire added.
Malacañang said the price cap on COVID-19 testing, one of the measures that seek to ensure access to affordable health services during the pandemic, may be released this week.
“That will be decided upon by the DOH and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry). If I’m not mistaken, maybe this week, the price cap will be released,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a virtual press briefing yesterday.?Earlier this month, President Duterte signed Executive Order 118 directing agencies to ensure that COVID-19 tests and test kits are accessible and affordable.
The DOH, in coordination with the DTI, was directed to determine, formulate and implement
The year 2020 has been quite a challenge for market participants as well as business houses, largely due to the coronavirus outbreak. Various sectors had to suffer from a shutdown of business activities and a sudden change in lifestyle and preferences of Americans.
Amid these trying times, the beginning of holiday season (the late October-December period) provides a ray of hope for a lot many industry players and market participants. Moreover, this time of the year is also a very important phase for a large number of companies from the business point of view. The quarter is also marked by some popular retail events like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday, Black Friday and Christmas, which increase its significance to retailers.
According to Deloitte’s report on holiday spending forecasts, retail sales may see growth of 1-1.5% during the November-January period, per a CNBC article.
Against this backdrop, let’s study some ETFs that are well-positioned to gain from a busy shopping season this year:
Online Retail ETFs to Keep Shining
The pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for the e-commerce industry as people continue to practice social distancing and shopping online for all essentials, especially food items. Thus, at par with the digitization trend, the upcoming U.S. holiday season is expected to see a significant surge in online sales. Going by a Total Retail article, e-commerce sales are anticipated to grow more than 20% this year as there is a surge in first-time online shoppers. Also, according to a report from Statista, the e-commerce space is projected to cross revenues of $2.3 trillion in 2020.
Against this backdrop, let’s look at some ETFs that can benefit from the new shopping trend: Amplify Online Retail ETF IBUY, ProShares Long Online/Short Stores ETF CLIX, ProShares Online Retail ETF (ONLN) and Global X E-commerce ETF (EBIZ) (read: Can ETFs Enjoy Halloween Effect Despite Rising COVID-19 Fear?).
Consumer Discretionary ETFs Popularity to Rise
There has been improvement in consumer spending and confidence after the pandemic-induced record decline in March.As restrictions were being relaxed in the United States, a number of restaurants and retailers started resuming business during the post-lockdown period. Therefore, the reopening of U.S. states brought optimism for players in the consumer discretionary sector and gained investors’ attention. Even during the holiday season, the sector is expected to see a boost in sales and demand as it attracts a major portion of consumer spending. Thus, to make the most of the opportunity, investors can consider The Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund XLY, Vanguard Consumer Discretionary ETF VCR, First Trust Consumer Discretionary AlphaDEX Fund FXD and Fidelity MSCI Consumer Discretionary Index ETF (FDIS) (see all Consumer Discretionary ETFs).
Digital Payments ETFs to See Increased Demand
Along with increased interest in online shopping, customers are resorting to digital payments to clear their bills. At the same time, merchants and utility providers are increasingly advocating the same. According to Statista, total transaction value in the Digital Payments segment should see 15.3% year-over-year growth rate in 2020 on