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US, Canada temporarily close border for non-essential travel

Last week, the US banned entry to the country for citizens of the Schengen zone, as well as the UK and Ireland

OTTAWA, March 21. /TASS/. The US-Canadian border has closed at midnight on Saturday Ottawa time (07:00 Moscow time) for all non-essential travel, namely for the purposes of tourism, due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau informed that these restrictions would be in place until the sides are confident that regular travel of citizens is safe. Reuters news agency informed that the border might be closed until April 20.

On Wednesday, Trudeau and US President Donald Trump first announced this decision. The leaders stressed that the restrictions would not affect trade turnover between both states, which reaches about $2 bln every day, as well as the travel of diplomats, medical professionals, emergency workers, plane crews and urgent trips of Canadians and Americans. Before the restrictions, about 200,000 people crossed the US-Canadian border every day.

Last week, the US banned entry to the country for citizens of the Schengen zone, as well as the UK and Ireland. Earlier, the US introduced similar measures banning Chinese and Iranian citizens from travelling to the USA.

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would be closing its borders due to the coronavirus, noting that the border with the US would remain open, but only for Canadian and American citizens. Trudeau stressed that Canadians wishing to return home from abroad would be able to do so. Ottawa has allocated $58 bln to overcome the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, he added.

The first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was documented in Canada on January 15. Currently, over 970 people have been infected, 12 have died and 13 recovered. The first infected persons arrived in the country from China, Iran and Egypt. Over 14,000 people have contracted the virus in the USA, with at least 205 people dead.

A pneumonia outbreak caused by the COVID-19 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV) was reported in China’s city of Wuhan, a large trade and industrial center with a population of 12 million, in late December 2019. Cases of the new coronavirus have also been reported from more than 150 countries and territories, including Russia, which by now has 253 cases. The World Health Organization says that the novel coronavirus cases across the globe have exceeded 260,000, with more than 11,000 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially described the situation with the novel coronavirus as a pandemic.