Donald Trump expands Iran travel ban after first US coronavirus death

Donald Trump has announced new travel restrictions on Iran and is considering shutting the country’s southern border with Mexico after the first American coronavirus death was confirmed this afternoon.

A ‘medically high risk’ patient in her late 50s passed away overnight in Washington state, as the number of people infected in America hits 22. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there was ‘no evidence of link to travel’.

At a press conference to discuss the outbreak, Vice-President Mike Pence said any foreign national who has visited Iran in the last 14 days would not be allowed into the US, and advised Americans to not visit specific infected areas in Italy and South Korea.

The Trump administration already has heavy restrictions on the entry of citizens of Iran under travel bans imposed on citizens of several Muslim-majority and other countries ‘to protect against terrorism attacks’. The new restrictions come as coronavirus deaths in Iran rise to 43.

When questioned at the conference by reporters on rumours that he was considering closing the US-Mexico border, Trump replied: ‘Yes, we are thinking about the southern border.’

He later downplayed the news, saying: ‘We’re thinking about all borders. We have to think about that border, but … this is not a border that seems to be much of a problem right now. We hope we won’t have to do that.’

Mexico’s government said on Friday it had detected three cases of coronavirus infection in three men.

Trump has admitted that additional coronavirus cases in America are ‘likely’ but revealed he has a meeting planned on Monday to discuss a vaccine which is currently in development.

He added that he had ‘very good’ initial feedback on the vaccine, adding that there are 43 million masks in the US and ‘a lot more are coming’.

Of the 22 people who have been infected with coronavirus in the United States, four remain ‘very ill’, while 15 have recovered or are on the road to recovery, Trump said.

The president praised his own administration for taking the ‘most aggressive action in modern history’ against the outbreak and cautioned ‘the media, politicians and everyone else to not do anything to incite a panic’.

Earlier on Saturday, Trump slammed criticism of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak as a ‘hoax’ cooked up by the Democrats.

The US President told a rally in South Carolina that his political enemies want to see him fail, dismissing accusations that he had not prepared the country for the virus.

He also linked the outbreak to his rivals’ immigration policies, telling a Republican gathering: ‘We are doing everything in our power to keep the infection and those carrying the infection from entering the country. We have no choice.

‘Whether it’s the virus that we’re talking about, or the many other public health threats, the Democrat policy of open borders is a direct threat to the health and well-being of all Americans.’

He added: ‘A virus that starts in China, bleeds its way into various countries all around the world, doesn’t spread widely at all in the United States because of the early actions that myself and my administration took, against a lot of other wishes, and the Democrats’ single talking point, and you see it, is that it’s Donald Trump’s fault.’

‘The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.

‘That did not work out too well. They could not do it. They tried the impeachment hoax.’

His claims were blasted by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Saturday as ‘bizarre’ and ‘dangerous’.

The politician told reporters outside a Greensville, S.C., event ahead of the state’s primary election: ‘Some of the stuff he says is so bizarre that you can laugh at it. It just so diminishes the faith that people around the world have in the United States.

‘The president of the United States says it’s a hoax? It’s hard to believe. Even for him it’s hard to believe.’

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