DONALD TRUMP has suspended all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days – apart from the UK and Ireland.
The President said that the “strong and necessary” travel restrictions are set to come into effect from midnight this Friday.
"To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days," Trump declared during an address to the nation from the Oval Office on Wednesday night.
The President is restricting travel to the U.S. by certain foreign nationals who have travelled to any of the 26 European countries identified in the past 14 days before coming to the U.S.
That list includes Italy, Spain, France and Germany but excludes the UK, Ireland, Croatia and Ukraine.
“We have been in frequent contact with our allies, and we are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people,” he said.
“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history. I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.”
US citizens, Green card holders and foreign nationals with immediate family members in the US and permanent residents who have undergone appropriate screening are all exempt.
The President appeared to hit out at the European Union for failing to halt the spread of the virus from Asia.
“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travellers from Europe,” he said.
He also reiterated the Centre for Disease Control’s guidelines for protecting against the spread of the virus and urged Americans to avoid non-essential travel.
"Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough. Most of all, if you're sick or not feeling well, stay home," Trump said.
He finished by calling on politicians from both sides of the aisle to put their differences to one side “unify together as one nation and one family” and work together to find a solution.
“As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity. Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine.
“Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before.”