US ups travel restrictions as Trump says more cases 'likely'
WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking to reassure the American public, President Donald Trump said Saturday there was "no reason to panic" as the new coronavirus claimed its first victim inside the U.S. The White House also announced new restrictions on international travel to prevent its spread.
Trump, speaking only moments after the death in Washington state was announced, took a more measured approach a day after he complained that the virus threat was being overblown and that his political enemies were perpetuating a “hoax.”
“This is very serious stuff,” he said, but still insisted the criticism of his administration's handling of the virus outbreak was a hoax.
Trump appeared at a hastily called news conference in the White House briefing room with Vice President Mike Pence and top public health officials to announce that the U.S. was banning travel to Iran and urging Americans not to travel to regions of Italy and South Korea where the virus has been prevalent.
He said 22 people in the U.S. had been stricken by the new coronavirus, of whom one had died and four were deemed “very ill.” Additional cases were “likely," he added.
Trump said he was considering additional restrictions, including closing the U.S. border with Mexico in response to the virus' spread, but later added: “This is not a border that seems to be much of a problem right now.”
“We’re thinking about all borders," he said.
Travel to Iran is already quite limited, though some families are allowed to travel there on a visa. It is one of the seven initial countries on Trump’s travel ban list, which means travel from Iran also is already severely restricted.
Trump described the Washington fatality as someone having a high medical risk before contracting the virus. Robert Redfield,...