The announcement came after the WHO declared the virus a global pandemic.
President Trump announced Wednesday night he was imposing a tight, month-long travel restriction on travelers coming from Europe to the United States beginning Friday at midnight. Exceptions include U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, and travelers departing from Britain and Ireland. No reason was given for the U.K. exceptions, despite the area having more than 400 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Earlier in the day, with more than 125,000 confirmed cases worldwide, the World Health Organization declared the virus a global pandemic.
“We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, appearing to rebuke the pace of reaction from certain countries.
The White House only began taking serious national measures this week, despite the first cases of the infection occurring in January.
More than 1,200 American citizens have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the official name of the new strain of coronavirus. Though health officials have warned Congress that the epidemic will get worse, Trump sought to allay fears during his address.
“This is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world,” he said.