March 26, 2020 / 8:22 AM / 6 days ago

UPDATE 2-Greek economy to shrink 1-3% this year - finance minister

(Adds updated number of patients)

ATHENS, March 26 (Reuters) - Greece expects its economy to contract by 1% to 3% this year due to the impact of the coronavirus, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said on Thursday.

Staikouras said that estimates were dependent on how long the epidemic lasted, but that he expected the impact to be milder than in other euro zone countries. A sharp recovery was predicted for 2021, he told Greece’s Skai TV.

“Greece had been doing exceptionally well until February. Obviously now it’s a completely different Greece from two months ago,” Staikouras said.

As of Thursday evening, the country had reported 892 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a rise of 71 cases in 24 hours, with 26 deaths. Forty-two patients had been discharged from hospital.

The government has imposed a curfew, shut down hotels and halted arrivals from non-EU countries and from Italy and Spain.

Tourism is the Greek economy’s main driver, and the sector expects hundreds of millions of euros in revenue losses.

Before the crisis, Greece had forecast its economy would grow 2.8% this year. Staikouras said the nature of the crisis meant that any recovery would be swift.

“We all believe that once this is over the recovery will be sharp, it will be V-shaped.” (Reporting by Michele Kambas, additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; editing by John Stonestreet and Hugh Lawson)

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