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US suspends travel from Europe for 30 days amid coronavirus scare

By Lalit K Jha
March 12, 2020 09:30 IST
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President Donald Trump has announced he is suspending all travel from Europe, excluding the United Kingdom, to the United States for the next 30 days to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus that has claimed 37 lives and infected 1,300 in the country.

In a televised address to the nation from his Oval Office in the White House, Trump said the new rule will be coming into effect from Friday midnight and there will be exemptions for Americans returning to the US after undergoing multiple screenings.

The president said the European Union has "failed to take the same precautions" as his administration had implemented to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump said he is monitoring the situation in China and South Korea, and asked citizens to suspend all non-essential travels.

He urged them to adopt best hygiene, wash their hands and stay away from large gatherings to reduce the chance of spread of the infection.

The deadly virus that first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year has claimed over 4,200 lives and infected more than 117,330 people across 107 countries and territories, with the World Health Organisation describing the outbreak a pandemic. China remains the hardest-hit with over 80,000 infections and 3,000 deaths.

 

"This is not a financial crisis. This is just a temporary moment in time that we will overcome as a nation and a world," Trump said, adding that "we are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people".

The president announced small business administration will begin extending loans to small businesses who will be affected by the coronavirus slowdown.

He was askew for payroll tax relief and said some tax filings will be delayed to help provide extra liquidity.

"We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family. As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity," Trump said.

"Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine. Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before," he said.

Over a dozen states in the US have declared a state of emergency with cities and counties announcing to take sweeping measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.On Wednesday, officials confirmed 37 deaths in various parts of the US due to the virus.

No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the US, he asserted and said "we have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world".

Trump said he has taken the decision to suspend travel from Europe to the US after consulting with top government health professionals, to protect all citizens from the coronavirus.

White House Press Secretary Stephnie Grisham said out of an abundance of caution from the coronavirus outbreak, the president has decided to cancel his upcoming events in Colorado and Nevada.

Giving details of the travel ban, Department of Homeland Security in a statement said Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the US.

These countries, known as the Schengen area, include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

This does not apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of US citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation, it said.

In the wake of the cornavirus outbreak, people have been running to grocery stores to stock supplies of essential items, while office goers are trying to do teleworking. Several public events, including those related to sports, have been cancelled, and several schools and universities have either shut down or considering closing.

In a letter, several senators urged Trump to immediately consider disaster declarations that allow FEMA to utilize USD 40 plus billion disaster relief fund to aid state and local government's responding to the outbreak.

The Federal Aviation Administration temporarily waived minimum slot-use requirements at US airports to help airlines that cancel flights due to the coronavirus. Under normal circumstances, airlines can lose their slots at congested airports if they do not use them at least 80 per cent of the time.

The FAA is waiving the 80-percent-use requirement through May 31 for US and foreign airlines that have affected flights.

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Lalit K Jha
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