Coronavirus: Trump adds UK and Ireland to US travel ban

US president appears unsure of his own decision before Mike Pence confirms move

Tom Embury-Dennis
Saturday 14 March 2020 17:12 GMT
President Donald Trump says the US has 'looked at' extending its European travel ban to the UK and Ireland

The US government is expanding its European travel ban to include Britain and Ireland, as it seeks to contain the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe.

Donald Trump originally exempted Britain and Ireland from his 30-day ban on travellers from 26 European countries that took effect at midnight on Friday.

The new travel restrictions on Britain and Ireland will go into effect on Monday evening at midnight, US vice-president Mike Pence said in a White House press conference.

More than 1,000 people in Britain have tested positive for the virus and more than 20 of those have died.

A number of the latest patients who died – who were over 60 with the oldest in his 90s – had underlying health conditions, NHS England said.

The UK could see a ban on "mass gatherings" from next week as the government looks towards more extreme measures in the fight against Covid-19.

Asked on Saturday afternoon about the decision to suspend UK and Ireland flights, Mr Trump appeared unsure over his own decision, before Mr Pence clarified the US government's position.

"We're looking at it very seriously, yeah, because they've had a little bit of activity, unfortunately, so we're gonna be looking at that, we are actually, already have looked at it and that is going to be announced," Mr Trump said at the press conference.

Mr Pence later confirmed the travel ban. He said Americans and legal US residents in Europe, including those in the UK and Ireland, would still be able to return home, where they would be screened upon arrival for the illness.

"In our taskforce meeting today the president has made a decision to suspend all travel to the UK and Ireland, effective midnight Monday night, eastern standard time," he said.

Mr Pence said there had been a "unanimous recommendation" from health experts to extend the travel ban.

"Americans in the UK or Ireland can come home, legal residents can come home ... they will will be funnelled through specific airports and processed."

Saturday's UK figures showed the largest one-day increase in coronavirus-related deaths the country has seen since the outbreak started.

Ten more people who tested positive had died, and the number of confirmed cases rose by more than 300 to 1,140.

The 10 patients who died were being cared for by nine trusts including Buckinghamshire, Sandwell and West Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Barts, London, north Middlesex and Chester.​

Europe is the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organisation has said.

The whole of Italy – the continent's worst-hit country – entered a state of lockdown earlier in the week, with Spain following suit on Saturday.

Covid-19 originated in Wuhan, a central Chinese city, towards the end of last year.

Additional reporting by agencies

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