Trump tests negative for coronavirus; US extends travel bans

Washington (dpa) - US President Donald Trump was cleared of having contracted novel coronavirus on Saturday, despite coming into contact with several people who have tested positive, a letter from the White House doctor said.

Trump made the decision to take the test on Friday evening after being pressed on the issue by reporters.

His doctor had earlier released a letter saying that although two members of a Brazilian delegation that visited Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort last weekend had tested positive for Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, Trump himself would not be tested.
The same doctor announced Trump's negative result on Saturday, stating that the president "remains symptom-free."
On Saturday the United States expanded the European coronavirus travel ban, adding Britain and Ireland to the list.
"The president has made a decision to suspend all travel" from Britain and Ireland effective at midnight on Monday (0400 GMT Tuesday), Vice President Mike Pence said at a White House press briefing.
The action came after "a unanimous recommendation" from "all of our health experts," Pence said, as the number of coronavirus cases surge in those countries. In Britain, the death toll on Saturday nearly doubled from the previous day, to 21.
"They've had a little bit of activity, unfortunately," Trump told reporters earlier in the briefing. "If you don't have to travel, I wouldn't do it."
The ban will apply to anyone who was physically present in Britain and Ireland in the 14 days prior to their attempted entry to the US.
Pence specified that US citizens "can come home" and will be "funneled through specific airports and processed." They will undergo medical screening and will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Certain visa holders, foreign diplomats and some others are also exempt from the restrictions.
Trump on Wednesday announced a 30-day ban on most travel from Europe that took effect Friday at midnight.
The president said on Saturday that he was considering imposing domestic travel restrictions, especially in areas hit hard by the virus outbreak.
Trump has faced increasing criticism for downplaying the virus in the earlier days of the outbreak.
The White House has started taking the temperature of those in close contact with Trump and Pence, including reporters attending the Saturday press conference.
One journalist was denied entry after showing a high temperature in three tests, according to a tweet from Pence's press secretary Katie Miller.
There are more than 2,226 cases of the novel coronavirus and 50 deaths recorded in the US, said Anthony Fauci, one of the top US officials handling the outbreak, at the White House news conference.
The real number of cases is likely higher, since jurisdictions across the country complain of a lack of testing ability.
"We have not reached our peak," Fauci warned.
New York state reported its first virus-related death on Saturday.
"I am saddened to report the #COVID19-related death of an 82-year-old women (sic) in NYC who had a pre-existing respiratory disease (emphysema)," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted.
It was announced late Saturday that the presidential primary election in the state of Georgia scheduled for late March would be postponed due to risks posed by the spread of coronavirus.
The poll will be delayed from its original date of March 24 to May 19, the state secretary Brad Raffensperger said in a statement. It followed a move by the southern state of Louisiana on Friday to would postpone its own primaries.
Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to combat the virus outbreak, in a move that will free up some 50 billion dollars in aid and waive a slew of regulations in the health care sector.
Private companies began working with the government to help expedite testing, with Google developing a new website to guide people to testing locations and other firms providing drive-by testing sites.
The US House of Representatives passed a multi-billion-dollar aid bill meant to blunt the economic fallout of the coronavirus late on Friday. It will next head to the Senate for a vote next week, where it is expected to be approved and then be signed into law by Trump.
The outbreak has spread into nearly every area of social life in the US, with a flurry of cancellations and closures announced in recent days, spanning Broadway theatres in New York, Disneyland in California, and major sporting events throughout the country.

Sunday, March 15th 2020

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