BoT keeping close eye on impact of Omicron

BoT keeping close eye on impact of Omicron

A man is tested for Covid-19 at Phuket airport on Monday. The swab tests are a mandatory measure for arriving passengers to prevent the spread of the disease. REUTERS

The Bank of Thailand has been closely monitoring the Covid-19 Omicron variant and could revise the country's economic growth rate this month in line with a recovery trend.

While the central bank has been watching the new variant, it said it will need time to gather enough information for a full analysis of its effects.

The World Health Organization and scientists around the world would take weeks to analyse the Omicron variant and its impact, said Chayawadee Chai-Anant, the central bank’s senior director for corporate communications.

Global preparations for the Omicron variant appear to be taking place much faster than was the case for the Delta strain in the spring.

Vaccination has been progressing worldwide, including in Thailand, where the country’s public health system capacity has also been developing.

Though some African tourists recently arrived in Thailand, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has not issued any reports about Omicron infections.

The central bank reported on Tuesday economic and monetary conditions for October, which indicated the Thai economy continued to improve from the previous month.

In particular, seasonally adjusted private consumption grew by 1.6% in October on a month-on-month basis, following on from 5.8% growth in September.

The value of merchandise exports has increased for two months in a row, growing 1.3% in October and 2.2% in September on a month-on-month basis.

The number of foreign tourist arrivals in October increased from the previous month, but remained low as international travel restrictions remained in place in many countries.

Foreign tourist arrivals increased to 20,272 in October, rising from 12,237 in September and 15,105 in August. From January to October the total number of foreign tourist arrivals was around 106,000.

With the Thai economy picking up, the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in December could revise its economic growth outlook for 2021 and 2022. In addition, the MPC would have more information about the Omicron variant and its possible impact on the Thai economy, Ms Chayawadee said.

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