Washington: US President Donald Trump said that an ongoing ban that prevents travellers from Europe from entering America will continue until the COVID-19 situation, which he describes as “tragic”, improves.
“We’re looking at that and it depends on how long it’s taking Europe to heal. Italy is starting to make a comeback. I’m very happy to see that with my friend the Prime Minister,” Trump said, referring to the head of the Italian government, Giuseppe Conte.
“It’s tragic what went on in Italy, in Spain, in France and in Germany, frankly, in every country over there. It’s tragic, but we’ll be looking at what’s happening in Europe and certainly we want to do that (lift the restrictions) and they want to do that too, very badly,” he added.
The ban came to effect on March 14 for an initial period of 30 days that has already been extended and can be done so again as Trump deems appropriate, reports Efe news.
This measure affects only foreign citizens, while Americans and those permanently residing in the country can theoretically continue to travel, although air traffic is mostly suspended.
Earlier this month, Trump said that the ban will be lifted “at the right time”, but he did not want to say whether that would happen in weeks or months.
At that time he also criticized the response of European countries to the pandemic.
“I would not say that Italy is doing very well right now. I would not say that Spain is doing very well right now. And France has just extended its order of confinement,” Trump said then to justify his decision.
Meanwhile, as the number of people killed by COVID-19 in the US reached 56,144, Trump raised the forecast for deaths from the deadly disease sweeping the world to 70,000.
“It’s far too many… one person is too many for this,” Trump said on Monday.
“But if you look at what original projections were, 2.2 million, we are probably heading to 60,000 to 70,000,” he said raising the forecast from the 50,000 to 60,000 he made eight days ago.
Some of the early models had predicted up to 2.2 million COVID-19 deaths in the US if adequate measures like social distancing were not taken.
Despite the total number of deaths in the US continuing to rise, the pandemic shows signs of plateauing with new cases reported holding almost steady for about 20 days with a few blips.