Greece’s finance minister said on Friday he expected the economy to contract by 3 to 4 percent this year due to lockdown measures imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, marking a significant downward revision from his previous estimate.
Christos Staikouras has been consistently downgrading his forecasts since the economic shutdown. In late March he said the crisis would lead to a 1 to 3 percent economic contraction, revising down a projection of 0 percent growth made just weeks earlier.
“It seems the country could recover in the second half (of the year) and cover part of the recession,” he told Alpha TV.
On Friday Greek health authorities announced 99 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 1,613 with 59 fatalities so far, a lower number than seen in many European countries.
Greece, which recorded its first coronavirus case at the end of February, took early measures to contain the outbreak. Shops, bars, restaurants, playgrounds, schools, shopping malls, universities and gyms have all been shuttered.
Greece’s economy had been recovering in the last two years after a decade-long debt crisis. It expanded by 1.9 percent in both 2019 and 2018.
On Thursday Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned Greeks that if they relaxed compliance with lockdown measures “we will pay for it,” saying April would be the most critical month in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus. [Reuters]