Top U.S. health officials backed President Donald Trumps ban of travelers from most European countries, noting that the majority of new coronavirus cases are in the region.
“Over 70 percent of the new cases are linked to the Europe,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield told lawmakers in Washington.
“And in the United States, I think it was now 30 states in our country or more were linked actually to cases in Europe. Europe is the new China.”
Asked if the ban would have a significant impact on reducing the community spread of the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said yes.
“The answer is a firm yes,” he told the lawmakers during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing.
“That was the reason, the rationale, the public health rationale why that recommendation was made,” he added.
Patients from Europe are “seeding other countries,” Fauci added, restating that dozens of U.S. states have infections from European countries. “So it was pretty compelling that we needed to turn off the source from that region,” he said.
Trump on Wednesday night said that travelers from Europes Schengen Area wouldnt be allowed into the United States for a month starting on Friday at midnight.
While the United States restricted travel from China, where the virus started last year, on Jan. 31, many European countries failed to do so, he said.
“As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe,” he said. The ban was announced “to keep new cases from entering our shores.”