INTERNATIONAL

Trump bans travel from Europe to U.S.

Nowhere to go:Travellers’ queue at an information desk at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday after the U.S. announced a 30-day ban on travel from Europe.AFPBERTRAND GUAY

Nowhere to go:Travellers’ queue at an information desk at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday after the U.S. announced a 30-day ban on travel from Europe.AFPBERTRAND GUAY  

He blames EU for failing to take precautions and restrict travel from China; U.K. excluded from ban

President Donald Trump late on Wednesday suspended travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days in an “aggressive” effort to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic that has sparked a run on the stock market and is rapidly multiplying.

The ban will not include travellers from the U.K., which recently left the EU, Mr. Trump said.

In a primetime address from the Oval Office to a worried nation, Mr. Trump sought to rebuff critics who say his leadership has been lacking during the crisis, insisting that “the virus will not have a chance”.

“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” he said.

He announced a series of measures designed to ease the financial burden for people having to take weeks off from work while on quarantine.

But his most far-reaching announcement was the halt on European travel — and that suffered a moment of major confusion when he mistakenly appeared to say he was also stopping trans-Atlantic trade.

Mr. Trump said the travel ban would go into effect from “midnight Friday”.

He then said “these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things”.

The White House afterwards clarified that “the people transporting goods will not be admitted into the country, but the goods will be”.

And Ken Cuccinelli, acting Deputy Secretary at the Homeland Security Department, went on Twitter to reassure Americans that the ban on travel from Europe wouldn’t apply to “citizens or legal permanent residents or their families”.

In his address, Mr. Trump put a harsh accent on Europe’s role in the spread of the virus, which began in China and has now travelled around much of the world, bringing sometimes fatal flu-like symptoms.

“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots” as the U.S., Mr. Trump said.

Italy toll crosses 1,000

About 4,500 people have died so far worldwide. As of Wednesday, there were more than 1,100 confirmed infections in the U.S. and 32 deaths, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, Italy’s death toll passed 1,000 on Thursday, with 189 new fatalities taking its toll in just over two weeks to 1,016, second behind China, official data showed.

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