The Latest: Fauci: US not eyeing restricting domestic travel
The Latest on the world’s coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 156,000 people and killed more than 5,800. The disease for most people causes only mild or moderate symptoms but for some, especially the elderly or people with underlying health conditions, it can cause more severe illness. Nearly 74,000 people have recovered from it so far, mostly in China.
A top member of the White House task force on combating the spread of coronavirus says the administration has “not seriously discussed” restricting travel within the United States.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said on ABC’s “This Week” that the idea of domestic travel restrictions have come up during administration deliberations but such action is unlikely “right now or in the immediate future.”
Fauci’s comments come a day after President Donald Trump told reporters that he was considering imposing restrictions on travel within the U.S. to areas hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The president said Saturday he was also adding the United Kingdom and Ireland to a list of countries that would face sweeping travel restrictions over the next 30 days. Last week, Trump announced a temporary suspension of travel into the U.S. for foreigners who had recently spent time in the 26-nation Schengen area, the European Union’s border-free travel zone.
The government’s top official on infectious diseases says he’s worried about the health risks of long lines and crowding at U.S. airports amid new coronavirus travel restrictions.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told “Fox News Sunday” that “we’d like to not see crowds like that” as Americans and other travelers return from Europe. He cited the aim of social distancing to prevent spread of COVID-19.
Fauci says it’s understandable with a travel ban, people would immediately feel they want to “hunker and get home,” but if you’re an American citizen, you can get back “there is no need to rush back.”
Weary travelers returning to the U.S. amid coronavirus-related travel restrictions have been greeted by long lines and hourslong waits for required medical screenings at airports.
Health authorities in Spain say deaths from the coronavirus have more than doubled in 24 hours, while total infections approached 8,000.
The Health Ministry said Spain has recorded 288 deaths since the start of the pandemic, up from 136 on Saturday. The European Union nation has 7,753 infections, up from 5,700 on Saturday, with around half of them concentrated in the capital of Madrid.
The jump comes a day after Spain’s government declared a state of emergency and took extraordinary measures to limit movement to commuting to work and necessary errands. It has also closed restaurants, bars, most retail shops and reduced public transport.
The Vatican says all Holy Week ceremonies will take place without the “physical presence of the faithful” because of the health emergency over the coronavirus.
The Vatican tweeted Sunday citing an announcement by the office of the pontifical household said that until April 12, when Easter Sunday is celebrated this year, all the general audiences on Wednesday as well as Pope Francis weekly Sunday noon prayer will be streamed by the Vatican.
Among popular Holy Week ceremonies is the Good Friday Way of the Cross torchlit procession at Rome’s Colosseum.
Holy Week ceremonies usually draw tens of thousands of people to Rome, but with Italy the European center of the COVID-19 outbreak, tourism in the country has vanished.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo is undergoing a test for COVID-19 on Sunday afternoon after his transportation minister, Budi Karya Sumadi, was tested positive with coronavirus on Friday. In an official video released by the presidential office, Widodo said that his cabinet ministers have taken the same test.
Britain’s top health official says the government plans to set out emergency powers this week to deal with the viral outbreak, including requiring the elderly to self-isolate and banning mass gatherings.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday the government’s bill laying out its emergency action plan would be unveiled on Tuesday and published Thursday.
Britain has taken a different approach and hasn’t yet heavily restricted everyday activities in the same way other countries across Europe have done, but Hancock’s comments suggested the government was ready to escalate its efforts. Britain has 1,140 confirmed virus cases and 21 deaths.
Pope Francis has praised people for their continuing efforts to help vulnerable communities, including the poor and the homeless, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Francis for a second Sunday delivered noon remarks and the spoken blessing from inside the Apostolic Library instead of from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
As he did a week earlier, he later waved from the window and gave a silent blessing with his arm, but this time there were no members of the public in the square.
Italians are being left even more isolated Sunday amid a national lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Italy’s transport minister signed a decree Saturday banning passengers from taking ferries to Sardinia, a large Mediterranean island.
Sardinia’s governor had asked for the ban to stop travelers from bringing possible infection from the mainland peninsula. Cargo can still go by ferry to the island, but every day people will need special permission from the governor to hop aboard.
The minister also banned overnight train trips, which many in the north had been taking to reach homes and families in the south. Italy has the largest outbreak outside of China, with 21,000 infections and 1,441 deaths.
Spain awoke to its first day of a nationwide quarantine on Sunday after the government declared a two-week state of emergency.
The government imposed the special measures including the confinement of people to their homes unless shopping for food and medicine, going to and from work, and to meet other basic needs.
Restaurants and hotels are closed and public transport reduced.
In Barcelona, people who ventured out on quiet streets to buy bread at one bakery formed long lines with a meter (about three feet) in between each person as recommended by authorities to reduce the risk of contagion. Police patrolled parks and told people who weren’t taking their dog on a quick walk to go home.
The state of emergency declared by the government of Pedro Sánchez includes the temporary centralization of Spain’s health care system which is run by regional authorities.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said Sunday that “if we show solidarity and think about one another we can get through this.
Austria’s leader says his government is limiting people’s movement nationwide.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told the Austria Press Agency Sunday that there should be only three reasons for people to leave home: essential work, essential purchases such as food, and helping other people.
He said people will be able to go out “only alone or with the people they live in their apartment.”
Kurz’s comments came shortly after the governor of Tyrol province had announced a lockdown for his Alpine region. Austria, a country of some 8 million people, has confirmed 800 infections with the new coronavirus.
More and more countries are taking border measures and restricting movement to try to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
Norway is set to close its airports and harbors due as of Monday, Prime Erna Solberg told Norwegian media. By midday Sunday, Norway has confirmed 1,133 cases of the virus.
Slovenia’s government has announced the closure of all public transport, including buses and trains in the small Alpine state. Authorities also plan to order the closure of all shopping malls, restaurants and bars. Only food shops and pharmacies will remain open. The country of about 2 million people that borders Italy has 181 officially confirmed COVID-19 cases and one death.
Uzbekistan announced that international air and highway connections will be cut beginning Monday and all mass events, including observations of the holiday of Nowruz, are canceled.
Kazakhstan has declared a state of emergency that closes the borders to all forms of transport and closes shopping malls, theaters and other places of mass gatherings.
Austria’s Tyrol province is ordering a lockdown to fight the coronavirus, initially for a one-week period.
The provincial governor, Guenther Platter, announced Sunday that people will be allowed to leave their homes only for reasons such as buying food and medicine, visiting the doctor, getting cash or walking the dog.
Tyrol, an Alpine region that is popular with skiers, borders northern Italy and is one of the worst-hit areas of Austria, which already has largely shut down public life.
The lockdown measures mirror those already taken by Italy and Spain. Austria has confirmed 758 cases of the new coronavirus and one death.
Singapore has announced that all travelers arriving from Southeast Asian countries, Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom or with a travel history to these countries within 14 days upon arrival will have to self-isolate under new efforts to battle the coronavirus.
The health ministry said the measure, starting Sunday, will also apply to Singapore residents. Southeast Asian visitors will also be required to submit information on their health for approval before their travel, it said.
The city-state, which has recorded 212 virus cases, has already banned visitors from China, Iran, Italy, France, Germany, South Korea and Spain. The new measure will not apply to sea and land crossings with Malaysia due to high inter-dependency between the neighbors.
Sri Lanka has closed all of its national parks, zoos and botanical gardens as a part of measures to combat the spreading of the coronavirus.
The Indian Ocean island nation’s government says the country’s 26 national wildlife parks, two zoos and two botanical gardens will be closed for visitors for two weeks starting Sunday.
Sri Lanka has confirmed 11 cases of the coronavirus.
The Republic of Congo, which is home to the World Health Organization’s regional Africa headquarters, has reported its first case of the coronavirus. The new case means 25 of Africa’s 54 countries now have cases of the virus.
Turkey has set up quarantine locations for more than 10,300 people returning from pilgrimages to Islam’s holy sites in Saudi Arabia.
The Youth and Sport Ministry said Sunday that beds had been made available in university dormitories in the capital, Ankara, and the central Anatolian city of Konya for those returning from Umrah, a pilgrimage that can be made at any time of the year. Returnees will be quarantined for 14 days.
Austria is further tightening restrictions on public life, closing restaurants and sports facilities and halting flights to a number of countries in an effort to fight the coronavirus.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced the new measures in a parliamentary session on Sunday. The Austria Press Agency reported that he announced flight bans for Britain, Ukraine and Russia.
Restaurants will now have to close entirely starting on Tuesday.
Austria has confirmed 758 cases of the new coronavirus, including one death.
Travelers returning to the U.S. from Europe have been greeted with hourslong waits for required medical screenings at airports.
While American citizens, green card holders and some others are allowed to return to the U.S. amid new European travel restrictions, they’re being funneled to 13 U.S. airports where they’re subject to health screenings and quarantine orders.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is trying to add additional screening capacity and work with airlines to expedite the process.
Videos and photos posted to social media showed packed, winding lines of returning travelers. On Twitter, airports like Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago O’Hare acknowledged the delays and asked for patience. But local politicians were incensed.
South Korea’s president has declared southeastern parts of the country hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak as “special disasters zones,” a designation that makes residents there eligible for emergency relief, tax benefits and other state financial support.
President Moon Jae-in’s office says he on Sunday approved a proposal by his prime minister to declare the Daegu city and some areas in the southeastern Gyeongsang province as such disaster zones.
It’s the first time for South Korea to declare any area a special disaster zone due to an infectious disease.
South Korea has so far reported 8,162 coronavirus cases, about 88% of them in the southeastern region. More than 830 people have recovered.
Australia’s prime minister says all travelers arriving in the country will have to self-isolate for 14 days to try and stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement Sunday after a phone hookup with the leaders of Australian states and territories leaders under a new national cabinet meeting.
Morrison told reporters in Sydney that the measures are indefinite and will be reviewed periodically.
Morrison also banned all cruise ships from docking in Australian ports for at least 30 days. The measures are similar to what New Zealand announced on Saturday.
Just across the Hudson River from New York City, a New Jersey city is imposing a curfew on residents amid the virus outbreak.
Hoboken residents must stay in their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Monday, a daily curfew that’s among the first and most far-reaching such measures taken in the U.S.
Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla announced Saturday night that exceptions will be made for emergencies and people required to work. He also said bars and restaurants can only offer takeout and delivery services. Bars that don’t serve food will shut down altogether Sunday.
New Jersey has 69 virus cases statewide and two virus-related deaths.
In New Zealand, passengers aboard a cruise ship in the South Island tourist town of Akaroa are not being allowed off the vessel while three passengers are tested for the new coronavirus.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said Sunday that one of the passengers on the Golden Princess is being treated as a suspected case.
The news came just one day after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country was banning cruise ships from entering its waters as it took a more aggressive approach to COVID-19. The Golden Princess was already in New Zealand at the time Ardern spoke.
The cruise ship departed from Melbourne, Australia.
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