President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference. File photo
President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he would issue a travel warning for the hard-hit New York area to limit the spread of the coronavirus, backing off from an earlier suggestion that he might try to cut off the region entirely.
"A quarantine will not be necessary," he said on Twitter.
Trump's announcement came as the US death count crossed 2,100, more than double the level from two days ago. The United States has now recorded more than 122,000 cases of the respiratory virus, the most of any country in the world.
Since the virus first appeared in the United States in late January, Trump has vacillated between playing down the risks of infection and urging Americans to take steps to slow its spread.
Trump said on Saturday afternoon that he might impose a ban on travel in and out of New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, the US epicenter of the disease, to protect other states that have yet to bear the brunt. He offered few specifics.
Critics promptly called the idea unworkable, saying it would cause chaos in a region that serves as the economic engine of the eastern United States, accounting for 10 percent of the population and 12 per cent of GDP.
"If you started walling off areas all across the country it would be totally bizarre, counter-productive, anti-American," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on CNN.
Hours later, Trump dropped the idea, saying he would instead ask the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a "strong Travel Advisory" that would be administered by the three states' governors.
The CDC later warned the states' residents against non-essential domestic travel for 14 days. It said the warning did not apply to employees of "critical infrastructure industries" including trucking, public health and financial services.
It was the latest reversal for Trump, who has been reluctant to order US companies to produce much-needed medical supplies, despite the pleas of governors and hospital workers.
Tests to track the disease's progress also remain in short supply, despite repeated White House promises that they would be widely available.
On Saturday, Trump appeared to soften his previous comments calling for the US economy to be reopened by mid-April. "We'll see what happens," he said.
Though Trump has apparently opted not to impose checkpoints on highways and airports leading out of New York, some states have imposed limits of their own.
Trump, in a rare Oval Office address to the nation on Wednesday night, said the month-long restriction on travel would begin late on 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 US clusters were "seeded” by European travellers.
Brought forward by Trump at the outdoor briefing, Fauci said his projection of a potential 100,000 to 200,000 deaths is "entirely conceivable" if not enough is done to mitigate the crisis.
In a grim new milestones marking the spread of the virus, total deaths across the United States hit 3,017, including at least 540 on Monday, and the reported cases climbed to more than 163,000, according to a Reuters tally.
Expatriates living in the UAE were elated as their family members, colleagues, friends stuck in other countries are now able to return as the UAE has lifted restriction on incoming flights from Monday onwards.
The Committee explained that the new guidelines take into account the exceptional situations of some categories of people including people of determination, children, and those with chronic respiratory conditions.
The UAE will today (Monday) start receiving residents with valid residence visas, who were stranded abroad due to coronavirus pandemic from various countries.