Trump suspends travel from Europe to US for 30 days, Latest World News - The New Paper

Trump suspends travel from Europe to US for 30 days

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US President's announcement of ban, which excludes the UK, causes disruption to travellers, hits airlines

WASHINGTON US President Donald Trump on Wednesday suspended travel from Europe to the US for 30 days in an "aggressive" effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The ban will go into effect from midnight today but will not include travellers from Britain, which recently left the European Union, the president said.

Homeland Security department official Ken Cuccinelli also said the ban would not apply to "(US) citizens or legal permanent residents or their families".

Americans were also told to reconsider foreign travel to avoid infection, with the State Department warning of other countries tightening their own restrictions.

In a prime-time 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 also announced several measures designed to ease the financial burden for people having to take weeks off from work while on quarantine.

As of yesterday, there were more than 1,300 confirmed infections in the US and 38 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In his address to the nation, he blamed European and Chinese people for bringing the outbreak to the US, describing it ominously as a "foreign virus", the New York Times reported. Mr Trump also praised his administration's response to the health crisis.

Infection numbers are expected to skyrocket in the US once more testing is done.

Mr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said earlier on Wednesday the coronavirus was estimated to be 10 times more deadly than flu and could infect "many millions".

Mr Trump announced short-term tax deferments and called on Congress to enact "immediate payroll tax relief".

He also said he was asking for another US$50 billion (S$70 billion) in funding for small business loans to help those stricken by the economic disruption.

But there was no declaration of a national emergency which would allow instant government access to extra funding.

Mr Trump's announcement has disrupted the travel plans of tens of thousands of people and hit airlines already reeling from the coronavirus outbreak, which has now been branded a pandemic and has killed more than 4,600 people worldwide.

"It caused a mass panic," said 20-year-old Anna Grace, a US student at Suffolk University who was on her first trip to Europe and swiftly changed her booking to fly back home from Madrid's Barajas airport instead of going on to France.

The 27-nation European Union bloc was not impressed by the US move.

"The European Union disapproves of the fact that the US decision... was taken unilaterally and without consultation," European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Council president Charles Michel said in a statement. - AFP, REUTERS