People wearing face masks amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus talk on a street in front of a poster for the Disney film 'Mulan' in Vientiane. (Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP)
The outbreak of Covid -19 has left Laos essentially unaffected with only 19 confirmed cases, yet the pandemic has battered the small and impoverished communist country’s economy.
The landlocked nation of seven million people, which is one of Asia’s poorest, is facing a period of economic uncertainty, according to American credit rating agency Fitch Ratings, which has just downgraded Laos’ economic outlook from “stable” to “negative.”
The Lao government imposed a two-month lockdown in March to contain the spread of the coronavirus from Wuhan, yet the measure has taken a toll on the domestic economy.
Similar economic downturns in China and Thailand, two of its wealthy neighbors, are bound to put further pressures on Laos’ ailing economy at the risk of keeping millions of impecunious locals in dire poverty or plunging back into it.