U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the fast spreading coronavirus on Friday.
The virus has killed over 5,000 people globally and infected at least 138,000 worldwide.
As the impact of the coronavirus on everyday life deepens, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called Europe as the epicentre to the current pandemic.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government to this effort today, I am officially declaring a national emergency – two very big words,” Trump said in remarks at the White House, adding that the situation would worsen in the “the next eight weeks”.
Trum, whose action makes available $50 billion in federal aid to states and localities, had faced criticism from some experts for being slow and ineffective in his response to the crisis and playing down the threat.
The latest steps came two days after Trump announced travel restrictions blocking U.S. entry for most people from continental Europe. While Britain was among the countries exempted, Trump said on Friday that might change because infections there had risen “precipitously.”
The president, who was photographed last Saturday at his private Florida club with a Brazilian official who has tested positive for the coronavirus, said he himself likely would be tested “fairly soon,” a reversal of his previous stance. But Trump, 73, said he did not plan to isolate himself, noting he was suffering no symptoms.
The virus has triggered a panic in the stock markets and hammered businesses of airlines, hospitality industries worldwide.
As on Friday, the United States reported 48 deaths and 1,629 cases.