Virus wave may cost economy B100bn a month, UTTC says

Virus wave may cost economy B100bn a month, UTTC says

A sign reads
A sign reads "7 steps to get COVID-19 vaccination" as people wait to receive their second dose of Sinovac at the Bang Khun Thian Geriatric Hospital in Bangkok on April 21. (Photo: Reuters)

The Thai economy could lose 100 billion baht ($3.19 billion) a month, mainly in the service sector, as a consequence of the latest outbreak of Covid-19, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said on Thursday.

The outbreak, which has seen over 18,000 cases in just 22 days, might reduce the number of workers by 149,000 a month, the UTTC said.

The new wave would probably be controlled within two or three months, like the previous outbreaks, but this would cut gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.2% to 1.8%, university president Thanavath Phonvichai told a briefing.

"If there will be economic stimulus measures, the economy may grow 1.2% to 1.6% this year," Thanavath said, adding the university's current forecast was for 2.8% growth.

Household debt levels might rise to 92% of GDP this year as the outbreak has cut income and jobs, he said.

The debt hit 89.3% of GDP, the highest since records began, at the end of 2020, when Southeast Asia's second-largest economy suffered its deepest slump in over two decades due to the pandemic.

The new spread, which accounts for more than a third of Thailand's cases so far, also comes as the country takes tentative steps to reopen to foreign visitors after a year of tightened border controls.

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