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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.

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.