The Latest: EU to assess US restrictions on travel

The Latest: EU to assess US restrictions on travel

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic:

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The European Union says it will assess President Donald Trump’s decision to restrict travel from Europe to the United States amid deep concern over the move’s economic impact, with markets already heavily hit by the new virus.

“We will assess the situation today. Economic disruption must be avoided,” European Council President Charles Michel, who chairs summits of EU presidents and prime ministers, said in a tweet Thursday.

Michel underlined that “Europe is taking all necessary measures to contain the spread” of the virus.

Trump said all European travel would be cut off, but Homeland Security officials later clarified that the new restrictions apply only to most foreign nationals who have been in Europe’s passport-free travel zone at any point within 14 days prior to their arrival to the United States.

The so-called “Schengen” area comprises 26 countries including EU members France, Italy, German, Greece, Austria and Belgium, where the EU has its headquarters, but also others like Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

Trump said the monthlong restriction on travel would begin late Friday. He accused Europe of not acting quickly enough to address the “foreign virus” and claimed that U.S. clusters were “seeded” by European travelers.

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The U.S. Army has decided to reduce the number of troops taking part in massive war games that have been planned across Europe over the next six months due to the new coronavirus.

The Defender-Europe 2020 exercises were set to involve some 20,000 American personnel, the biggest deployment of U.S. troops to Europe in the last 25 years.

But U.S. Army Europe said in a statement that “in light of the current coronavirus outbreak, we will modify the exercise by reducing the number of U.S. participants.” No details on numbers were provided.

“Activities associated with the exercise will be adjusted accordingly and we’ll work closely with Allies and partners to meet our highest priority training objectives,” it said.

In all, around 37,000 soldiers from 18 countries, not all of whom are members of the NATO military alliance, had been expected to take part. Some troops and equipment have already deployed.

“The health protection of our force, and that of our Allies and partners, is a top concern,” the statement said.

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Denmark, which has 514 confirmed cases of the virus, on Thursday entered a virtual lockdown.

All schools — public and private — and daycare facilities will be closed from Monday, but many students are staying home already. Schools offered to take care of children but said there would be little teaching.

All public servants who do not perform critical functions have been ordered to stay home for the next two weeks. Hospitals and nursing homes have been urged to impose tighter restrictions on visits. All indoor cultural institutions, libraries and leisure facilities are closed.

The restrictions are to continue for two weeks.

Minutes after this was announced late Wednesday by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, people rushed to supermarkets to buy toilet paper and other necessities.

Two of the Danish virus cases are in serious condition, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said, adding that 10 people were hospitalized.

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Two more passengers on board a river cruise boat in eastern Cambodia have tested positive for the new virus.

The Cambodian Health Ministry said a 73-year-old man and his 69-year-old wife who are both from the United Kingdom have been infected. They were on the same boat where another passenger from the United Kingdom tested positive two days ago

The remaining passengers who are awaiting their test results are being transferred from the cruise boat to a hotel in Kampong Cham for continued quarantine.

The luxury cruise with 64 passengers and crew originated in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City and visited the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, before arriving at Kampong Cham.

Cambodia now has a total of five confirmed cases.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced that state public health officials have issued an updated policy on gatherings to protect public health and slow the spread of the new virus.

State public health experts have determined that gatherings should be postponed or canceled across the state until at least the end of March. Non-essential gatherings must be limited to no more than 250 people, while smaller events can proceed only if the organizers can implement social distancing of 6 feet (2 meters) per person.

Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from the virus should be limited to no more than 10 people, while also following social distancing guidelines.

Published on: Mar 12, 2020 15:00:00

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