US President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced measures to counter the spread of the outbreak, including the suspension of all travel from Europe into the US until at least the middle of April. The ban will not be applied to the United Kingdom.
Among other measures, Trump recommended nursing homes suspend all unnecessary visits. The US president also vowed to provide financial relief for workers who are ill, quarantined or caring for others due to the coronavirus.
The US will also assist small firms affected by coronavirus and the US Department of Treasury will defer tax payments without interest or penalties for certain businesses, including individuals affected by the COVID-19, according to Trump.
“We are marshaling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people. This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history”, Trump said.
Earlier in the day, DC declared a state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, recommending the postponement of all non-essential gatherings of 1,000 or more, including conferences and conventions, through 31 March.
Schengen Visitors' Entry
Following Trump's statement, the Department of Homeland Security said that the US had suspended the entry of foreign nationals who have visited the Schengen Area at any time during the period two weeks prior to their arrival to the US.
"Today President Donald J. 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 United States," the Department said.
It said the countries, known as the Schengen Area, included Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
"This does not apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation," the Department said.
The Trump administration’s coronavirus task force proposed a 30-day plan for communities in the US states of California and Washington where the deadly disease has taken hold. The plan envisions regular health checks at schools for students, staff and visitors; social distancing at retirement homes, and shifting weekly church services to an all-video format.
Trump's Wednesday announcement on measures to tackle the spread of the coronavirus in the US impacted the global market, as S&P 500, Nasdaq 100 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average showed significant loss.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has dubbed Europe a disease threat equal to that of China. Italy remains the worst affected by COVID-19 in Europe, with nearly 10,150 confirmed infections and more than 630 deaths. Spain is the second largest European country hit by the pandemic with nearly 2,200 infections and almost 50 deaths.
Current global data shows over 126,000 infected, at least 4,600 dead and an estimated 68,000 recovered in the ongoing pandemic.