EU reopens borders, but bars visitors from the US

US could see 100,000 Covid-19 cases a day as several US states imposed a 14-day quarantine on travellers from other states

WASHINGTON • The European Union (EU) reopened its borders yesterday to visitors from 15 countries — but not the virus-stricken US, where a top health official warned the country is headed in the “wrong direction” as cases spike in multiple states.

US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci (picture) said the US could see 100,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, and several US states imposed 14-day quarantines on travellers from other states.

Also in the US, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced he will not hold rallies during the outbreak, a move that is in stark contrast with President Donald Trump, who has already held large campaign gatherings.

The 77-year-old former VP delivered a blistering critique of his November opponent’s handling of the virus, saying the Republican president had “failed” the country.

“This is the most unusual campaign I think in modern history,” Biden said. “I’m going to follow the doc’s orders — not just for me but for the country — and that means that I am not going to be holding rallies.”

In Brussels, the EU finalised the list of countries whose health situation was deemed safe enough to allow residents to enter the bloc yesterday.

Notably excluded were Russia and Brazil, as well as the US, whose daily death toll passed 1,000 on Tuesday for the first time since June 10.

The countries that made it onto the EU’s list are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Japan, Georgia, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Travellers from China, where the virus first emerged late last year, will be allowed on the condition that Beijing reciprocates and opens the door to EU residents.

The border relaxation, to be reviewed in two weeks and left to member states to implement, is a bid to help rescue the continent’s battered tourism sector, which has been choked by a ban on non-essential travel in place since mid-March.

But with some 10.4 million known infections worldwide, the pandemic is “not even close to being over”, the World Health Organisation has warned.

In Washington, Fauci, a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, warned Congress that “clearly we are not in total control right now”.

Alarming spikes in Texas and Florida are driving the national total of new cases to over 40,000 per day, and they need to be tamped down quickly to avoid dangerous surges elsewhere in the country, Fauci stressed.

Texas alone reported 6,975 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, its highest tally yet. “I’m very concerned and I’m not satisfied with what’s going on, because we’re going in the wrong direction,” Fauci said.

The pandemic has claimed some 127,000 American lives so far and more than 508,000 around the globe.

Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican who chairs the Senate panel, urged Trump to end the politicisation of mask-wearing by putting on one himself. “The president has plenty of admirers, they would follow his lead,” Alexander said. “It would help end this political debate.”

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Tuesday doubled to 16 the number of US states whose residents must go into quarantine for 14 days if they visit any of the northeastern states. — AFP