May 5, 2020 / 8:00 AM / a month ago

Thai PM says coronavirus impact may last another nine months

FILE PHOTO: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha speaks at the closing ceremony of the 35th ASEAN Summit and related summits in Bangkok, Thailand, November 4, 2019. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand may see the economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic spread over another nine months, the country’s prime minister said on Tuesday, as disruption from the global crisis drags on tourism and domestic activity.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy could lose more than 1.3 trillion baht ($40 billion) and up to 10 million jobs due to the outbreak, according to estimates from business groups.

“We expect the impact on the economy to last for quite awhile, not only three months, but possibly six or nine months,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told a news conference.

“We need to prepare measures to cope with that,” he said.

Prayuth said he might ask more rich people for cooperation in addressing the economic fall-out from the outbreak, as he did with the country’s 20 richest people last month.

The government has introduced economic measures worth billions of dollars to mitigate the impact from the virus, including its latest package worth 1.9 trillion baht ($59 billion) that was approved in early April.

The central bank has forecast the Thai economy will shrink 5.3% this year, which would be the worst contraction since the Asian currency and debt crisis of 1998.

Thailand has reported a total of 2,988 infections and 54 deaths since the outbreak emerged in January. The country started reopening some businesses on Sunday.

Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon, Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Tom Hogue

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