PRESIDENT Donald Trump may ban Brits from travelling to the US after he declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic on Friday.
Banning flights from the UK could be part of the latest efforts to stop the spread of the killer virus.
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Trump said the UK was so far exempt from a travel ban based on the recommendation of 'a group of professionals' – but the rising number of British cases could result in a volte-face.
He told reporters on Thursday: "We are looking at it based on the new numbers that are coming out – and we may have to include them in the list of countries that we will, you could say ban or whatever it is, during this period of time."
The US President said Britain's "numbers have gone up fairly precipitously over the last 24 hours".
As of Thursday March 13, the UK currently has 798 cases with 11 dead.
The ban takes effect from midnight tonight, causing many Americans in Europe rush to board final flights leaving the continent.
Speaking from the Rose Garden, Trump said: “I am officially declaring a national emergency," before revealing he WILL get tested for COVID-19.
For the first time, the President said he will “most likely” be tested for the coronavirus though he says he is not showing any symptoms.
It comes as Washington struggles with providing Americans with relief and officials race to slow the spread of the outbreak.
Trump said the country's new emergency status would open up $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak.
When questioned over the U.S. government's slow roll out of virus testing, Trump was defiant: "I don't take responsibility at all."
When asked about his demolition of President Obama’s pandemic response team, Trump called it “a nasty question.”
The president has faced criticism for delays in testing for the new coronavirus, with claims it has allowed the disease to spread rapidly throughout the country.
In announcing the increase in tests, Trump also appeared to downplay the public health crisis.
He said that five million tests would be available “within a month,” though added: “I doubt we’ll need that.”
Trump said he was also giving Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar emergency authorities to waive federal regulations and laws to give doctors and hospitals “flexibility” in treating patients.
Trump spoke as negotiations continue between the White House and Congress on an aid package, but there was no announcement of a breakthrough, as House Democrats prepare to vote on their own measure Friday.
The news comes after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reportedly tested positive for the deadly virus — days after meeting with Trump at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.
Since meeting with Bolsonaro — and others who have quarantined themselves after coming into contact with someone with the virus — Trump has said he doesn't need to be tested.
But now, he may be forced to isolate himself after Bolsonaro's aide, Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive.
Fox News reported Friday that Bolsonaro tested positive for the coronavirus, citing Bolsonaro's son.
But in the time since, Bolsonaro has denied a positive test in a post on his official social media account.
Despite the fact that they came in such close contact with Bolsonaro's aide, no one from the Trump family has placed themselves under a self-quarantine.
Trump has also refused to be tested, despite his administration's own task force urging those individuals who have come in contact with an infected person to quarantine and be tested.
After it was reported Bolsonaro's aide has the coronavirus, White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham released a statement.
"The White House is aware of public reports that a member of the Brazilian delegation's visit to Mar-a-Lago last weekend tested positive for COVID-19; confirmatory testing is pending."
"Exposures from the case are being assessed, which will dictate next steps. Both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time."
Those remarks were belied however by multiple photos and video that show both the President and Vice President posing alongside and interacting with Wajngarten at Mar-a-Lago.
A source tells The Sun that within minutes of the news breaking, the administration's top aides were called into a meeting to discuss how to move forward.
An hour later, president Trump announced on Twitter that he would be holding a press conference at 3pm regarding coronavirus.
President Bolsonaro also came in contact with a number of other politicians, including Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott as well as the entire First Family.
A source with knowledge of the situation told The Sun that three other members of the Brazilian delegation who traveled to Florida over the weekend had also begun to experience "flu-like symptoms" in recent days.
That individual said two of those men had also been tested for to see if they had COVID-19, but did not know the results of those tests.
On Wednesday, Trump announced he was suspending all travel between the U.S. and Europe for 30 days, starting Friday.
He addressed the nation from the Oval Office, and said the coronavirus clusters seen throughout the country were "seeded" by European travelers.
"We are marshaling the full power of the federal government," Trump said. "This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history."
CNN reported yesterday that Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Republicans Trump was considering signing a federal disaster declaration.
If signed, the disaster declaration would be under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
The move would free up $42 million to combat the outbreak — and would let the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) take over some aspects of the nation's response.
On Wednesday, Senate Democrats asked in a letter to Trump to immediately consider the disaster declaration.
“It is crucial that your administration employ a whole-of-government approach in responding to COVID-19," they wrote.
"This includes working closely with state, local, and tribal officials and providing necessary resources to those on the frontlines."
“We strongly urge FEMA to stand ready to provide emergency protective measures to prevent and mitigate the spread of disease, save lives, and protect public health and safety, should any state request assistance," the letter read.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday it's an “operational procedure that opens up a substantial set of federal and state resources and tools."
The proclamations allow for the use of state disaster relief funds for coronavirus control and allows states to request on-site assistance from FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pritzker said the government is now assembling mobile support teams of emergency responders to react quickly when new situations arise.
The coronavirus has infected nearly 130,000 people worldwide, with over 1,300 of them in the U.S., where officials say at least 38 people have died from the virus.
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