In an effort to control the accelerating spread of the coronavirus disease now known as COVID-19, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence announced on Saturday a number of new travel restrictions and advisories involving countries that have been particularly impacted by the illness, according to Breitbart.
The new measures put in place will broaden the existing travel restrictions applicable to Iran in that they “will be expanded to include foreign traveling from Iran or through Iran in the past 14 days.” Additionally, Americans are being specifically warned not to travel to South Korea and to some areas of Italy that have seen a significant number of coronavirus cases emerge in recent days, according to CNBC.
“We are urging Americans to not travel to the areas in Italy and the areas in South Korea that are most affected by the coronavirus,” said Pence, who was tapped by President Trump last week to lead the nation’s coronavirus disease preparedness and response efforts, according to The Washington Post.
According to the Washington Examiner, 43 infected individuals in Iran have died — the second-highest mortality number outside of China — with total cases in the Middle Eastern country topping at least 593. Italy has seen over 1,100 documented cases and 29 deaths, with the regions of Lombardy and Veneto experiencing the most serious outbreaks, according to Reuters.
First U.S. death confirmed
The new travel restrictions were announced on Saturday during a White House news conference held after reports emerged of the first death coronavirus death in the United States. The deceased patient was reportedly a 50-year-old “medically high-risk” male in Washington state.
At present, there are roughly 70 people infected with the virus stateside, most of whom were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to The New York Times. President Trump has stated that additional coronavirus cases in the United States are “likely.”
Out of the approximately 70 people diagnosed with COVID-19, Trump said that four are very ill, while 15 have either already recovered from the illness or are well on their way to doing so.
“Healthy individuals should be able to fully recover,” the president insisted, according to NBC Washington.
President Trump also announced that he will be meeting with representatives from multiple pharmaceutical companies in the coming week to discuss progress in the development of a coronavirus vaccine. However, many in the medical field believe that such a vaccine will take at least a year before it can be introduced, if an effective one is even found, according to the BBC.
As such, travel restrictions such as those implemented by the Trump administration and other nations across the globe provide one of the only true lines of defense against further spread of the illness. Until scientists develop a vaccine, the best officials can do is look to limit the virus’ spread, and one way to do that is to limit the physical movement of people.
The Trump administration has been very proactive in this regard, starting by imposing an advisory against travel to China in early February and now adding Iran, Italy, and South Korea to the caution list. The president stated that he is also considering implementing travel restrictions on Mexico, a country in which two individuals were recently found to have been infected, according to the Associated Press.
Though the Trump administration is acting out of an abundance of caution with regard to the coronavirus, officials maintain that the risk posed to Americans remains comparatively low.