Donald Trump reveals he excluded UK from his coronavirus travel ban because it’s ‘doing a good job’ fighting the infection due to its ‘strong borders’ – despite Britain having one of the highest infection rates in Europe
- Donald Trump attempted to provide clarity on his hastily-announced travel ban
- Said UK and Ireland are exempt because they are ‘doing a good job’ against virus
- Comes as UK government is critcised for responding too slowly, and Justin Trudeau’s wife self-isolates after returning from the country with symptoms
- Ireland banned crowds and closed schools, measures Trump refused to take
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Donald Trump said he exempted the UK and Ireland from his Europe-wide coronavirus travel ban because they are ‘doing a good job’ fighting the disease.
Trump said his decision was largely based on the strength of the UK and Ireland’s borders, because they are outside the EU’s borderless Schengen Area.
In fact, the UK has one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in Europe – with cases rising by roughly a third each day.
The country has also seen ten deaths from the virus, far higher than most countries covered by the ban.
Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie has also self-isolated after returning from the UK with a suspected case of coronavirus, and is being tested.
The UK government is being criticised at home for responding too slowly to the crisis as Boris Johnson was expected to refuse to close schools and ban large gatherings – as Trump has also refused to do.
Scotland and Ireland have shuttered classrooms and brought in so-called ‘social distancing’ measures in order to try and slow the spread of the disease after it overwhelmed Italy’s healthcare system.
Trump sought to clarify the thinking behind his travel ban after a hasty press conference on Wednesday evening caused panic and confusion around the world.
Having taken flak from European leaders who said they were not consulted on the plan, Trump said there was no time and that he had to act quickly.
Speaking during an Oval Office meeting with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varakar, he said: ‘It [the UK] has got very strong borders and they are doing a very good job.
‘They don’t have very much infection at this point and hopefully they will keep it that way.’
Mr Trump said he hoped the pandemic would ‘work out well for everyone’, but added there was reason to briefly restrict some movement between parts of the world.
‘It is a world problem and we do need separation in terms of you have some areas that are very heavily infected and you have some areas that are not.
‘We do need separation for a little period of time.’
Trump said it was possible the United States would need to extend the curbs of travel from Europe beyond the current 30 days but could also could shorten the restrictions, which have angered European leaders.
The Republican president also said says he did not support a coronavirus economic relief bill the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on Thursday because it includes unrelated issues.
He said be believed the stock market, which entered bear market territory this week, would bounce back from recent falls.
Trump added that he was not yet ready to invoke emergency disaster powers over the outbreak.
The president said he did not shake hands with Varadkar at their meeting because of the coronavirus, and the pair were pictured bowing instead.
President Trump raised fresh questions surrounding his response to the coronavirus on Thursday by saying that Americans in Europe will be tested for coronavirus before they are allowed to board flights and that they will not be allowed to come home if they test positive.
The shocking announcement came after his decision to halt all travel from Europe to the US for 30 days starting from Friday at midnight.
During a press conference with the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office, Trump said: ‘We are not putting them on planes if they test positive. It is going to be a pretty strong enforcement of quarantine,’ he said, without explaining which tests would be used or where the diagnosed cases would then be treated overseas.
It was a direct contradiction to what Pence said on Thursday morning – that ‘everyone can come home regardless of their symptoms or what their condition is’ and that they would simply be asked to go under ‘voluntary’ quarantine after landing back in the US at one of 13 airports designed to handle the outbreak.
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