Thai Q1 GDP falls 1.8%, sharpest contraction in 8 years

BANGKOK (REUTERS) – Thailand’s economy contracted at its sharpest pace in eight years in the first quarter, but by less than expected, as the coronavirus outbreak hit tourism and domestic demand.

South-east Asia’s second-largest economy shrank 1.8 per cent in the January-March quarter from a year earlier, data showed on Monday (May 18), versus a 4.0 per cent decline forecast in a Reuters poll. The economy grew a downwardly revised 1.5 per cent in the December quarter.

On a quarterly basis, the economy shrank a seasonally adjusted 2.2 per cent in the March quarter, the National Economic and Social Development Council said, smaller than the forecast 4.5 per cent contraction projected by economists.

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Thailand imposes nationwide curfew to curb coronavirus

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand will impose a nationwide night curfew from Friday to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the prime minister said on Thursday, adding that people had to adapt to survive.

The 10 p.m.-4 a.m. curfew, which will run indefinitely, is the latest measure by the government to curb gatherings and have people stay at home as much as possible.

Exceptions include those people transporting medical supplies and health workers travelling to and from work, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said.

“We prioritise health over freedom,” said Prayuth, a retired army general who seized power in a 2014 coup and was re-installed as a civilian prime minister after a disputed general election over a year ago.

“We might not feel as comfortable as before, but we all need to adapt for survival and have social responsibility, so that we can make it through this crisis.”

Prayuth also said he would ensure that hospitals get the supplies they need, describing medical staff as the “vanguard” against an “invisible enemy”.

In a televised address, Prayuth also asked all Thai citizens abroad to “delay” returning to Thailand until after April 15 in a bid to stop imported cases.

Since March 1, Thailand has seen rising numbers of cases who became infected abroad before returning to Thailand and has put nearly 2,000 people who came into contact with them into quarantine.

Last week, Thailand closed all border crossings for everyone except for Thai nationals, diplomats and their families, and foreigners with permits allowing them to work in Thailand.

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