Thailand reports 13 new coronavirus cases as tourism data shows 76% plunge in arrivals

BANGKOK: Thailand reported 13 new coronavirus cases on Thursday (Apr 23) and one more death – a 78-year-old woman with other health complications.

Of the new cases, five were linked to previous cases and five had no known links.

Three other new cases were reported from the southern island of Phuket where the authorities are aggressively testing the population because the infection rate there is severe, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

Since the outbreak escalated in January, Thailand has reported a total of 2,839 cases and 50 fatalities, while 2,430 patients have recovered and gone home.

READ: Thailand job losses may hit 10 million if COVID-19 outbreak drags on

Thailand on Monday announced that it would extend a nationwide ban on alcohol sales until Apr 30 to help control the spread of the coronavirus by discouraging social gatherings.

A previous 10-day ban in Bangkok, coinciding with an annual national holiday, had been due to end on Apr 20. The scheduled end date had varied in other provinces.

A business advisory council said earlier this month that  Thailand’s job losses may reach 10 million if the outbreak continues for a few months.

The central bank has forecast the economy will contract 5.3 per cent this year, which would be the weakest performance since the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

READ: Migrant workers left out in Thailand’s fight against COVID-19

On Thursday, Thailand also reported that foreign tourist arrivals plunged 76.4 per cent in March from a year earlier, after a 42.8 per cent drop in the previous month.

Hit by the coronavirus outbreak, tourism receipts also fell, by 77.6 per cent to 39.5 billion baht (US$1.22 billion) year-on-year.

Visitors from China, Thailand’s biggest source of tourists, plunged 94.2 per cent from a year earlier.

Tourism is a key driver of Thai growth, with foreign tourist receipts accounting for 11 per cent of gross domestic product last year.

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