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Thailand shuts schools, delays holiday to tackle coronavirus

  • News Desk

    Bloomberg

Bangkok   /   Tue, March 17, 2020   /   08:48 pm
Thailand shuts schools, delays holiday to tackle coronavirus A Buddhist devotee wearing a face mask amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, places a gold leaf on the statue of a monk at Wat Pak Nam Buddhist temple in Bangkok on March 16, 2020. (AFP/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)

Thailand confirmed plans to shut schools, universities and some recreational venues that attract large crowds as part of efforts to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Schools and universities will be closed for two weeks from Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said in a briefing Tuesday after the Cabinet meeting approved proposals laid out in detail a day earlier.

Sports stadiums, including for boxing, will be temporarily shut, as will pubs, he said. Restaurants and department stores can stay open but have to upgrade screening efforts, such as temperature checks, as well as cleaning.

The traditional New Year holiday will be postponed from the current April 13 to April 15 to later in the year, he also said.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said officials aren’t locking down the country, but instead are implementing strict controls. Thailand also confirmed 30 new cases of the disease known as Covid-19, taking the total to 177.

In a televised evening speech, Prayuth said the government won’t close borders or bring cities to a complete halt, adding the administration will revitalize the economy when the outbreak eases.

For now the nation faces a contraction after a collapse in the critical tourism sector and the worst regional stock market plunge.

Fitch Ratings revised the outlook on Thailand’s sovereign rating to stable from positive, citing the impact of the virus and lingering political uncertainty following last year’s transition to civilian rule from a military government.

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