Thailand job losses may hit 10 million if virus outbreak drags on

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective face mask rides her cart during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Bangkok, Thailand, April 11, 2020. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s job losses may reach 10 million if the coronavirus outbreak continues for a few months, a business advisory council said on Monday.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy is being hit hard by the virus outbreak and is heading into a recession.

“We think about 7 million jobs have been lost already, and the figure will hit 10 million if the outbreak drags on for 2-3 months,” Kalin Sarasin, a council member and the head of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, told a briefing after a meeting.

Thailand has a workforce of about 38 million.

The council of government and business agencies discussed requests for support measures before proposing them to the government, said council chairman Thosaporn Sirisumphand.

They included soft loans, tax breaks and financial support to retain jobs, he said.

Thailand, which has recorded 2,579 cases of infection and 40 deaths, has imposed a nationwide night curfew, having closed malls and discouraged activities to limit the spread.

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

Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Editing by Mark Potter