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Coronavirus declared a pandemic as Trump announces travel ban

President Donald Trump speaks in an address to the nation from the Oval Office at the White House about the coronavirus Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Washington. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool);


The World Health Organisation has declared the coronavirus a pandemic, as the number of confirmed cases approach 120,000 worldwide.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has stunned investors by announcing a temporary travel ban from Europe which sent global tumbling.

Taking dramatic action, President Trump sharply restricted passenger travel from 26 European nations to the U.S.

Trump, in a rare Oval Office address to the nation Wednesday night, said the monthlong restriction on travel would begin late Friday, at midnight. After days of playing down the coronavirus threat, he blamed Europe for not acting quickly enough to address the "foreign virus" and claimed that U.S. clusters were "seeded" by European travellers.

Trump said the restrictions won't apply to the United Kingdom, and there would be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings.

The State Department followed Trump's remarks by issuing an extraordinary global health advisory cautioning U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the virus and associated quarantines and restrictions.

While Trump said all European travel would be cut off, Homeland Security officials later clarified that the new travel restrictions would apply only to most foreign nationals who have been in the "Schengen Area" at any point for 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. The area includes France, Italy, German, Greece, Austria, Belgium and others, and the White House said the zone has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of mainland China.

The restrictions don't apply to legal permanent residents, the immediate family of U.S. citizens or others "identified in the proclamation" signed by Trump.

And Trump misspoke when he said the prohibitions would "not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo but various other things." The official proclamation released after Trump spoke made clear it applies to people, not goods and cargo.

WASHINGTON (AP)