- President Donald Trump says he excluded the UK from his coronavirus-related travel ban because it is “doing a good job.”
- But the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has just soared by 30%.
- Critics have pointed out that two of the countries excluded from the ban – Britain and Ireland, the only European Union member exempted – host golf clubs owned by Trump.
- The European Union on Thursday criticised Trump’s decision.
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President Donald Trump has defended excluding the UK from his European travel ban by saying it is “doing a good job” containing the novel coronavirus, but the total number of cases in Britain has soared by almost 30% in just the past day.
The UK on Thursday afternoon reported a total of 590 positive tests for the virus – a rise of 28% from Wednesday.
Trump on Thursday addressed his decision to temporarily bar travel to the US by foreign nationals travelling from most of Europe while excluding Britain and Ireland. Critics have pointed out that both countries host golf courses owned by Trump.
The president discussed the ban as he hosted Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the White House (the taoiseach is the title for prime minister in Ireland).
Trump announced the ban Wednesday night, which for 30 days starting Friday prevents foreign nationals from travelling to the US from 26 European countries. The UK, Ireland, and other countries not in the passport-free Schengen Area were exempted.
Trump’s decision to “unilaterally” impose the ban was condemned by the European Union earlier Thursday morning.
“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the US decision to improve a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” the European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, and the European Council’s president, Charles Michel, said in a joint statement.
European countries were reportedly caught off guard by Trump’s announcement Wednesday night in a nationally televised Oval Office address.
Trump told reporters on Thursday that he did not have time to consult European leaders in advance.
Trump’s defence of the UK came as the country announced a series of measures meant to delay the spread of the virus.