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Science

Coronavirus: US travel ban on Europe begins as many countries step up containment


The travel ban from Europe to the United States has come into force, as a growing number of countries across the world ramp up their efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

President Trump’s travel ban on the 26 countries of the Schengen area began as part of stepped up efforts by his administration to tackle the growing Covid-19 outbreak, including the declaration of a national emergency, freeing up $50bn in federal funding and promising a screening website and drive-through tests.

The travel ban excludes the UK and Ireland, but Donald Trump has said the UK could be added to the list of European countries included.

Many other countries also stepped up their fight against the virus, including Saudi Arabia which suspended all international flights for two weeks, starting on Sunday. The period will be considered as an exceptional official holiday for citizens and residents who are unable to return due to the suspension of flights or if they face quarantine after their return to the Kingdom, state news agency, SPA, cited the official as saying. The country has reported 86 coronavirus cases.

In New Zealand, the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced that she would introduce “the widest-ranging and toughest border restrictions of anyone in the world”, also from midnight on Sunday.

Under the new restrictions, people arriving in the country – including citizens – will be required to self-isolate for two weeks. Only people arriving from the Pacific, which is largely free of the virus, will be exempt from the rule, which will take effect as of midnight local time on Sunday. Cruise ships will also be banned from docking in the country until 30 June.

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Countries in Latin America increased travel restrictions. Guatemala announced it would ban arrivals from the United States and Canada from Monday. No cruise ships will be allowed to dock, but public events and school classes would go ahead for the time being.

Bolivia, Venezuela, Paraguay and Peru have all suspended flights from Europe, while Colombia will also stop visitors who have been in Europe or Asia from entering the country.

The restrictions were announced as Venezuela confirmed its first two cases of the coronavirus on Friday. There is deep concern over a possible outbreak in the crisis-stricken nation where many hospitals already struggle to treat even basic ailments.

Other international restrictions include:

  • Denmark, which said it would close its borders to all except its own nationals and legal residents at midday on Saturday until 13 April.

  • Across southeast Asia, Cambodia will refuse entry to citizens from Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and the United States, local media reported; Vietnam will stop issuing tourist visas to citizens from Europe’s Schengen area and Britain. Vietnam has already placed more than 100 tourists in quarantine facilities after a cluster of cases was linked to a flight that arrived from London.

  • The Philippines, which will place its national capital region, home to 12 million people, under lockdown tomorrow, had earlier announced a travel ban for all foreign nationals countries reporting local transmission of coronavirus. This includes more than 60 nations.

  • Canada stopped short of closing its borders but announced the closure of parliament for five weeks and said that incoming international flights would be redirected to a small number of airports for enhanced screening measures. Cruise ships with 500 people will be banned from docking in the country’s ports until 1 July.

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Around 145,369 cases of coronavirus have now been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. While infections appear to be slowing in China and South Korea, the World Health Organisation warned on Friday that Europe is now at the centre of pandemic, urging countries “not to let this fire burn”.

As case numbers have risen rapidly across Europe, there are continued signs that transmission is slowing in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began. Officials there reported just five new cases on Friday, the second day in a row the tally has been less than 10, while no locally transmitted infections were reported in the rest of the country.

Similarly in South Korea, which has faced one of the biggest outbreaks, officials reported that for a second day running that the daily number of recovered people exceeded that of new confirmed cases. On Saturday, 107 new coronavirus cases were reported, taking the national tally to 8,086. Meanwhile, 204 patients were released from hospitals where they had been isolated for treatment.



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