Coronavirus Live Updates: Trump’s Europe Travel Ban Is Met With Anger and Confusion

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Thibault Camus/Associated Press

On both sides of the Atlantic on Thursday, the consequences of President Trump’s decision to ban most travel from Europe began to be felt economically, politically and socially.

The European Commission, the governing body of the European Union, issued a scathing statement condemning the move even as many European nations moved to tighten their own restrictions on the movement of people both within their borders and from outside.

“The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” it said. “The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.”

Tens of thousands of Americans in Europe scrambled to figure out what they needed to do before the 30-day travel ban goes into effect on Friday, with many unclear on the scope of the ban and worried that their flights home would be canceled. And airlines, hotels and scores of other industries — many of which had already been hurting from restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus — braced for even steeper declines.

Italy, already on lockdown, clamped down even further, and on Thursday morning virtually the only public places still open to its 60 million citizens were supermarkets and medical facilities.

Within the European Union — where the free movement of people among members states has long been considered one of the crowning achievements of the post-World War II order — the Czech Republic on Thursday joined other nations in announcing new border checkpoints.

Outside Europe, the fight against the virus also gained intensity, with India joining the growing list of countries imposing drastic travel limits.

If the virus had seemed a distant threat to many Americans, news that the actor Tom Hanks had tested positive seemed to shake that notion. And the steady drumbeat of bad news from Wall Street only heightened anxiety. Asian and European markets were trading sharply lower on Thursday.

Congress is set to vote on a sweeping aid package for people financially affected by the coronavirus.

Delays in testing in America have made it difficult to get a full sense of scale of the outbreak there. But states are increasingly taking matters into their own hands, declaring states of emergency, canceling school and university classes, limiting the size of gatherings and ordering thousands of people with potential exposure to the virus into isolation.

While the World Health Organization has declared the global spread of the virus a pandemic, its leaders urged nations not to give up on containment. Uncontrolled spread of the virus, they warned, could overwhelm health care systems even in the wealthiest societies, presenting uncomfortable choices about who to treat first.


Video player loading
President Trump addressed the nation about the steps his administration will take to combat the coronavirus crisis.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump said on Wednesday night that he was suspending most travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days, beginning on Friday, to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions do not apply to Britain, he said.

Mr. Trump imposed a 30-day ban on foreigners who in the previous two weeks have been in the 26 countries that make up the European Union’s Schengen Area. The limits, which take effect on Friday at midnight, will exempt American citizens and permanent legal residents and their families, although they could be funneled to certain airports for enhanced screening.

Later on Wednesday, the State Department issued an advisory telling Americans to “reconsider travel” to all countries because of the global effects of the coronavirus. It is the department’s second-strongest advisory, behind “do not travel.”

The president, sitting behind the Resolute Desk with his arms crossed, finally appeared to be acknowledging the severity of the virus, calling it a “horrible infection.”

It signaled a break from the business-as-usual attitude he had been trying to project as recently as Tuesday, when he urged Americans to “stay calm” and said the virus would soon go away. But Mr. Trump continued to anticipate a fast end to the outbreak, even as medical experts have warned that the pandemic will worsen.

“This is not a financial crisis,” he said. “This is just a temporary moment in time that we will overcome as a nation and a world.”

And some of the basic scientific information he conveyed was wrong.

“We are making antiviral treatments available in record time,” he said — but there are no approved antiviral treatments for coronavirus.

Right now, over 200 clinical trials of experimental antiviral drugs and drug combinations are registered in China, according to the World Health Organization. They include trials of two H.I.V. drugs, a 70-year-old anti-malaria drug, a drug that was tested against Ebola but did not work, and a new anti-flu treatment from Japan.

No results from any of the trials have been released, and Chinese scientists have said they are having a hard time recruiting enough patients for them because the number of hospitalized coronavirus cases is dropping so quickly there.

The W.H.O. and American scientists have said that the drug trials should also be conducted in Europe, including Italy, and in the United States. But conducting complex clinical trials in the chaos of a rapidly expanding epidemic is difficult.

California has become the latest state to impose new measures aimed at containing the virus, telling residents to postpone or cancel gatherings of more than 250 people, including sports events, conferences and concerts, through the end of March.

The new guidelines also advised against gatherings in smaller venues, such as auditoriums, that don’t allow for 6 feet of distance between people. Groups of high-risk people, such as those in retirement or assisted-living facilities, should be limited to no more than 10 people, officials said.

The coronavirus is increasingly altering American life, as churches shut their doors, large gatherings in some regions are forbidden and the N.B.A. suspended the rest of its season.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State, which has been hit hard by the virus, said that people should no longer sit shoulder-to-shoulder in local bars, as such socializing has become “totally unacceptable” amid the global pandemic. He also banned public gatherings of 250 people or more in three counties in the Seattle area. In Ohio, the governor said a ban on large events was imminent. San Francisco’s mayor banned group events of more than 1,000 people.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle suspended all public celebration of Mass, becoming the first Catholic archdiocese in the country to do so. And Episcopal bishops in Virginia and Washington, D.C., said that all churches in the dioceses would be closed for two weeks.

It was the latest set of public institutions to announce closings, amid moves by many colleges to move classes online and in some cases direct students to not return to campuses after spring break.

As of early Thursday, at least 1,240 people in 42 states and Washington, D.C., had tested positive for the coronavirus and 37 people had died, most of them in Washington State. Diagnosed cases in three states — Washington, New York and California — account for more than 60 percent of the U.S. outbreak.

Greek pilgrims on a tour of the Holy Land. American tourists who took a cruise on the Nile. A Tunisian who attended a soccer game in Cairo.

At least 102 people who traveled in Egypt last month have tested positive for the coronavirus after returning to their home countries, stoking fears of a much wider outbreak in the Arab world’s most populous country than had previously been calculated.

Egypt has declared 67 coronavirus cases, and officials insist that it is still safe for tourists to come to the country. “Thank God, Egypt is one of the least affected countries,” Tourism Minister Khaled el-Enany told reporters in Cairo on Tuesday.

Egyptian officials say that the country’s outbreak is concentrated on a cruise ship on the Nile, on which 45 people were infected, that has been quarantined since Friday. But the high number of people who have tested positive after leaving Egypt suggests that the virus has spread to other parts of the country.

Outside Iran, the highest number of reported cases in the Middle East are in countries like Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Iraq, which have declared about 500 cases between them.

The number in Qatar jumped to 262 from 24 on Wednesday amid fears that the virus will spread in the packed camps for construction workers who are building soccer stadiums for the 2022 men’s soccer World Cup.

Relatively little is known about the spread of the virus in some of the region’s most vulnerable war-torn corners, such as Syria, Yemen and Libya.

The House is set to vote on Thursday on a sweeping aid package for people affected by the coronavirus, with a measure that would establish a national paid leave program, expand food assistance, offer free coronavirus testing and bolster unemployment insurance.

The proposal also includes $500 million to provide assistance to low-income pregnant women and some mothers who are laid off because of the outbreak; $400 million to assist food banks; and $250 million to deliver packaged meals to low-income seniors.

The package, unveiled late Wednesday night, calls for the development of a standard for health workers’ safety and establishes a mandate for paid sick days in the case of public health emergencies like the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said the measures “focused directly on providing support for America’s families, who must be our first priority in this emergency.”

Although it is expected to pass the Democratic-controlled House, it is unclear whether President Trump will embrace it. In a televised address from the Oval Office on Wednesday night, he said he would take “unprecedented” action to provide financial relief “for workers who are ill, quarantined or caring for others due to coronavirus,” but the White House did not elaborate on the details.

The main thrust of Mr. Trump’s economic rescue plan, a huge payroll tax cut, has drawn skepticism from members of both parties.

Republican congressional aides said late Wednesday that the Democrats’ bill appeared to contain several “poison pills” that would make it difficult for them to support it. And the top House Republican called it ineffective and too expensive.

“If the Democrats try to move what they’re trying to do, I don’t know that that will help the economy,” Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the House minority leader, said in an interview on Fox News. “It’ll just cost us so much more money.”

European stocks plunged in early trading on Thursday as investors digested the consequences of President Trump’s 30-day travel ban on most European visitors to the United States. Futures markets also signaled dire openings for Wall Street.

London led the drop in Europe, with stocks falling about 6 percent. The opening followed a broad fall in Asian shares.

The falls, driven in part by a sharp drop on Wall Street on Wednesday, worsened considerably during Asian trading after a spate of late news from the United States.

With global growth on the line, investors have been looking for world leaders to step in to keep the economic gears turning. Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he would extend financial relief for sick workers and ask Congress for more. Central banks are also cutting interest rates.

Here are tips for stocking your pantry in ways that are practical and delicious; answers to some common questions about travel, and steps to take when talking to an anxious teen about coronavirus.

Across Europe on Thursday, Americans scrambled to make sense of conflicting messages from Washington about if and when they would be allowed to return to the United States.

David Barreres of Toms River, N.J., who was visiting Spain, was awakened just before 4 a.m. by frantic messages from friends after President Trump announced a ban on most travelers from Europe for the next 30 days.

As Mr. Barreres and his wife began looking for flights, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a statement contradicting the president, saying that the rules did not apply to American citizens.

Unsure of what to believe, Mr. Barreres called travel agents, his airline and the U.S. embassy, but he could not get anyone on the phone who could clarify the situation. As of Thursday morning, he said he planned to go to the embassy in person to find out “if we’ll be able to get back to my four daughters that are in the care of their grandmother.”

After the president’s speech, officials suggested the 30-day ban applied only to foreign nationals who had been in the 26 countries that make up the European Union’s Schengen Area in the previous two weeks. The limits take effect Friday at midnight and will exempt American citizens and permanent legal residents and their families.

The Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks said on Wednesday night that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Mr. Hanks, 63, is one of the highest-profile celebrities to contract the virus that has spread throughout the globe.

Mr. Hanks, who is in Australia to film a movie about the life of Elvis Presley, said in a statement that he and Ms. Wilson, also an actor, had been tested after feeling tired with body aches and feverish temperatures. The couple will remain isolated for as long as public health requires, Mr. Hanks said.

“Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?” he said in the statement, which was accompanied by a photograph of a lone medical glove in a hazardous-waste container.

Mr. Hanks is playing the role of Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s eccentric manager, who groomed the famous singer to stardom in the 1950s. Production on the film, which is being directed by Baz Luhrmann, is set to begin filming on Monday.

Australia had more than 120 cases confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday.

At a news conference, Annastacia Palaszczuk, the premier of Queensland, said those who had been contact with the couple for more than 15 minutes would need to self isolate. “So a selfie,” she said, “wouldn’t count.”

“What this signals is that this coronavirus can happen to anyone,” she added.

The spread of the coronavirus across more than 100 countries now qualifies as a global pandemic, World Health Organization officials said on Wednesday, confirming what many epidemiologists have been saying for weeks.

Until now, the W.H.O. had avoided using the term, for fear that people would think the outbreak was unstoppable and countries would give up on trying to contain it.

“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief of the W.H.O., said at a news conference in Geneva.

“We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough,” he added. “All countries can still change the course of this pandemic.”

There is evidence on six continents of sustained transmission of the virus, which has infected more than 120,000 people and killed more than 4,300. The pandemic designation is largely symbolic, but public health officials know that the public will hear in the word elements of danger and risk.

According to the W.H.O., an epidemic is defined as a regional outbreak of an illness that spreads unexpectedly. In 2010, it defined a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease” that affects large numbers of people. The C.D.C. says it is “an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.”

The last pandemic declared by the W.H.O. was in 2009, for a new strain of H1N1 influenza.

China has passed the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesman for the country’s health ministry said on Thursday. The new virus first emerged in China late last year, and the country has recorded about two-thirds of the cases worldwide, though its new cases have dropped sharply in recent days.

On Thursday, China said it had just 15 new coronavirus cases and 11 deaths over the previous day. Eight of the infections were in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the epidemic first spread, and six were diagnosed among travelers arriving from abroad. China’s total count of confirmed infections is 80,793, including 3,169 deaths.

“The peak of the current round of epidemic in China has already passed, the number of new cases continue to decline, and the overall epidemic situation has generally been maintained at a low level,” said Mi Feng, the health ministry spokesman.

He added that the country should not ease its aggressive approach to controlling the outbreak. “We must make medical treatment the top priority and not grow apathetic, war weary or relaxed,” Mr. Mi said.

Beijing on Thursday also reacted with anger at comments from Robert O’Brien, the White House national security adviser, who said China’s cover-up of the initial outbreak cost the international community “two months to respond.”

Geng Shuang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, accused Mr. O’Brien of turning “a blind eye to the international community’s high evaluation of China” and called his comments “neither moral nor responsible.” Mr. Geng said American officials should concentrate on cooperating on the fight against the virus “rather than blame China and vilify the Chinese government and people’s efforts to fight the epidemic.”

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Elisabetta Povoledo, Steven Erlanger, Alissa J. Rubin, Alexandra Stevenson, Daniel Victor, Austin Ramzy, Russell Goldman, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Albee Zhang, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Daniel Victor, Sui-Lee Wee, Annie Karni, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Declan Walsh, Vindu Goel, Elian Peltier, Jason Horowitz, Emma Bubola, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jorge Arangure, Matthew Futterman, Elaine Yu, Amy Qin, Alan Rappeport, Emily Cochrane, Karen Zraick, Sandra E. Garcia, Scott Cacciola, Sopan Deb, Brooks Barnes, Noah Weiland, Sheri Fink, Mike Baker, Monika Pronczuk, Melissa Eddy, Roni Caryn Rabin, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Andrew Keh and Katie Thomas.

View original article here Source

Related Posts