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The US has decided to suspend passenger travel from most of continental Europe in a bid to restrict the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

The move was announced by the US President Donald Trump in a televised address to the nation.

According to the White House, the decision prohibits travellers from 26 countries in the Schengen border-free travel area.

European nations located outside the Schengen area, including the UK, will remain unaffected. Inter-continental cargo movement is also excluded from the ban.

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The travel restrictions are set to become effective from 13 March and will remain in place until revoked by President Trump.

As of 11 March, the number of Covid-19 cases from the 26 Schengen Area countries stood at 17,442, with 711 deaths.

The US has reported around 1,300 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 37 deaths.

The presidential proclamation comes a day after global public health organisation WHO declared the outbreak as a pandemic.

Trump was quoted by Reuters as saying: “This is not a financial crisis. This is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.”

The president also announced a series of measures to support the domestic economy to combat the effect of the pandemic.

As of 12 March, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 121,312 while Covid-19 death toll increased to 4,363.