DONALD TRUMP announced earlier this week that the USA will temporarily ban travel from most of Europe in an effort to prevent the further spread of coronavirus – but which countries will be affected?
President Trump said he would be suspending travel for 30 days, beginning on Friday March 13, but added the restrictions would not apply to the UK or the Republic of Ireland. The news comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) this week officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic after it has spread to over 100 countries worldwide.
WHO defines a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease for which most people do not have immunity”.
The United States now has more than 1,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 – but coronavirus testing in the country is still being ramped up meaning the number is likely to keep climbing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that more than 8,500 specimens have been tested for the virus across the country – but as numerous specimens are needed from each individual, the number of actual patients who have been tested is likely to be far lower.
31 deaths have been reported as linked to the coronavirus in the US as the latest victim, an elderly woman in her 90s, died on Tuesday night in California.
Which countries are banned?
The ban will apply to most foreign nationals who have been in the 26 countries which make up the Schengen Area during the last two weeks.
The affected countries include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The restrictions do not apply to American residents and their immediate family members and travellers coming from the UK.
US officials also later clarified the Republic of Ireland – which is not a member of the Schengen Area – will also be exempted from the ban.
In the past few weeks, the US had already banned entry to foreign nationals who had visited China in the 14 days before their arrival to the country.
Travel restrictions have also been placed on people coming from Iran while a “do not travel” warning was issued to South Korea and Italy.
In a speech broadcast from the Oval Office, President Trump said: “Taking early intense action we’ve seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe.
“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots.
“As a result a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travellers from Europe.
“After consulting with out top government health professionals I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans.
“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.”
Following the Oval Office speech, the White House confirmed that the ban would not extend on imports coming in from the European Union.
Trump said in a tweet: “The restrictions are to stop people not goods.”
What about the rest of the world?
WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside of China had risen by 13 times in the last two weeks and said he was “deeply concerned” by the “alarming levels of inaction” from countries worldwide.
Dr Ghebreyesus added that the majority of shops, bars, hairdressers, restaurants and cafés that cannot guarantee a 1m distance between customers would close until March 25.
Italy remains the worst-affected country outside China, with more than 12,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 827.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned her citizens that up to 70% of them – around 58million people – could contract the virus at any given time.
There have so far been 1,300 confirmed cases in Germany.
Denmark has 514 confirmed cases so far and has announced a decision to close all schools and universities starting from Friday.
India has suspended the majority of visas for foreign nationals until 15 April and Guatemala has banned all European citizens from entering the country.
The UK is expected to switch tactics and aim at delay the spread of the virus as opposed to containing it.