Source: China State Council Information Office
The European Union has condemned the decision by US President Donald Trump to halt travel from Europe’s Schengen Area to the United States in a bid to combat the country’s outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The suspension will apply for 30 days and was due to take effect on Friday at 11:59 pm US Eastern Time.
“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the US decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” EU Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a joint statement on Thursday.
“The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” they said.
Michel added:”Economic disruption must be avoided.”
They rejected Trump’s suggestion that Europe is not doing enough to combat the virus, saying that the 27-nation bloc “is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus”.
All EU member states have reported infections of COVID-19, with the total number of cases within the bloc exceeding 22,000.
The restrictions do not apply to the United Kingdom, where the number of confirmed cases has reached 460, or Ireland, which is not part of the Schengen Area. The term applies to an area in Europe in which immigration controls have been removed for travel within it.
In Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday said “solidarity initiatives” from the EU on the coronavirus emergency are expected. By Friday morning, the number of infections in the country surpassed 15,000, and the death toll rose to 1,016.
In a brief note on the emergency, Mattarella said that Italy is going through a difficult condition, and its experience in fighting the epidemic will likely be useful to all member states of the EU.
“Solidarity initiatives, instead of steps possibly hampering operations, are therefore expected, and legitimately, at least in the common interest,” he added.
The country remains under full lockdown, and all shops have been shuttered and all public gatherings banned since Thursday morning. The only exceptions are supermarkets, pharmacies, public transportation, post offices, banks, farms, and food production industries, which must be kept running in order to guarantee basic services to the public.
Spain has now confirmed almost 3,800 cases of the virus, making it the second-most affected country in Europe. So far, 84 people have died.
Four towns locked down
Spain’s Catalan authorities on Thursday began locking down four towns around the village of Igualada－50 kilometers north of Barcelona－after a significant outbreak in the area, top regional police official Eduard Sallent said. Around 70,000 people would be under quarantine.
Every member of the Cabinet is being tested for the coronavirus after the country’s Equality Minister Irene Montero became the latest politician to test positive for the virus.
Iran on Friday reported 85 new deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said, bringing the death toll to 514 in the worst-hit country in the Middle East. The total number of infections surpassed 11,000.
On Thursday, Iran said it had asked the International Monetary Fund for a loan of $5 billion to combat the outbreak in the country.
In Asia, South Korea－the hardest-hit country in the region outside China－saw the number of newly recovered patients exceed those for fresh infections for the first time on Friday, as it reported its lowest number of new cases for three weeks.
South Korea confirmed 110 new cases on Thursday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, taking the total to 7,979. But 177 fully recovered patients were released the same day, it added.
Despite the spread of the virus, Japan is on track to hold the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as planned, top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said on Friday, after Trump suggested a possible delay of a year. The number of confirmed cases in Japan stood at 676 as of Friday morning.
In Africa, Gabon and Ghana confirmed their first cases of coronavirus on Thursday, becoming the ninth and 10th countries in sub-Saharan Africa to register positive cases.