President Donald Trump says he is suspending all travel between the US and Europe for 30 days beginning on Friday as he seeks to combat a viral pandemic.
Trump made the announcement in an Oval Office address to the nation on Wednesday night, blaming the European Union for not acting quickly enough to address the novel coronavirus and saying US clusters were “seeded” by European travellers.
Trump said the restrictions won’t apply to the United Kingdom and the US would monitor the situation to determine if travel could be reopened earlier.
Trump said “we are marshalling the full power” of the government and private sector to protect the American people.
President Donald Trump announced a range of executive actions in his address as Washington raced to confront a viral pandemic that is roiling global financial markets and disrupting the daily lives of Americans.
Trump was considering new travel advisories, a national disaster declaration and a delay in the tax filing deadline.
Congress, for its part, unveiled a multibillion-dollar aid package that was expected to be voted on by the House as soon as Thursday.
Trump’s announcements came as communities cancelled public events nationwide, universities moved to cancel in-person classes, and families grappled with the impact of disruptions to public schools.
The number of confirmed cases of the infection topped 1000 in the US and the World Health Organisation declared the global crisis is now a pandemic.
As government officials warned that the outbreak in the US will only get worse, the Capitol was set to halt public tours of the building as the shifting developments raised questions, urgency and a new level of unease.
“I can say we will see more cases, and things will get worse than they are right now,” Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said in testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. He said the virus is “10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu.”