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Coronavirus

As US stops travel from Europe, France holds off on extreme measures


President Donald Trump during his speech Wednesday evening to announce measures to fight the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump during his speech Wednesday evening to announce measures to fight the coronavirus. Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS

The United States has suspended travel from 26 European countries in the border-free Schengen zone, saying the EU has "failed" to take the necessary precautions in staving off the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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In an address to the nation, US President Donald Trump announced that travel from Europe would be suspended for 30 days starting midnight Friday (Eastern Daylight Time).

The travel order does not apply to people travelling from the United Kingdom and Ireland, and American citizens will be unaffected. Trump also said trade would continue as usual, adding the restrictions were meant to stop “people and not goods”.

Meanwhile France, the worst-affected EU country behind Italy with more than 2,200 coronavirus cases, has so far resisted moving to an elevated "stage 3" epidemic alert level – despite adopting increased measures.

Corsica, which has 51 cases, has banned gatherings of more than 50 people as the coronavirus, now a pandemic, continues to spread.

The island's prefect told French channel BFMTV the ban on gatherings would be observed until 15 April. All Corsican schools will remain closed until 29 March.

While four French departments have closed all schools, affecting more than 400,000 students, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told FranceInfo radio Thursday the total closure of all French schools “has never been envisaged”, thought he conceded the list of closures would get longer.

“We must remember there are 12 million students in France and therefore there will certainly be other territories which will be affected,” Blanquer said.

According to the latest report released late Wednesday, France has confirmed 48 coronavirus deaths, and identified 10 major outbreak zones.

President Emmanuel Macron is to deliver a televised statement Thursday at 8pm in his first official speech since the health crisis began.

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