US Vice President Mike Pence has announced that a travel ban imposed on European nations over the coronavirus pandemic would be extended to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The ban will come into effect at 4am (Irish time) on Tuesday.

"Americans in the UK or Ireland can come home. Legal residents can come home," Mr Pence told a White House news conference, adding that such people would be "funnelled through specific airports and processed".

A 30-day US ban on travel from the EU's Schengen border-free zone took effect on Saturday, but notably excludes Britain and Ireland.

Mr Trump had earlier confirmed the ban would be extended to those countries as the pandemic progresses, saying: "They've had a little bit of activity, unfortunately."

Separately, the Embassy of the United States in Dublin has confirmed that the J1 visa programme is being suspended for 60 days, as a result of Covid-19.

The decision was taken by the US Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs after US President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

In a statement, the ECA said it will "temporarily pause all ECA-funded programs that involve travel to and from countries" with Covid-19.

It said the programmes will be paused for 60 days and it said it will "review this decision every 30 days thereafter."

J1s are popular among Irish students, with almost 3,400 travelling to the US last year on the visas.


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Meanwhile, President Trump has taken a coronavirus test but said that his temperature was "totally normal" as his administration ramped up efforts to contain a pandemic that has shut down much of the daily routine of American life.

After officials took the unprecedented step of checking the temperatures of journalists in the White House briefing room, Mr Trump told reporters he took a test for the virus on Friday night and that he expects the results in "a day or two days."

US Vice President Mike Pense announced the travel ban this afternoon

Earlier, officials in New York said an 82-year-old woman became the state's first coronavirus fatality.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the woman, who had previously suffered from emphysema, was hospitalised in Manhattan on 3 March.

He told reporters that the state's number of cases had risen to 524. Nationwide, more than 2,000 people have been infected and 50 have died.

Around 80% of cases of Covid-19 will be a mild to moderate illness, close to 14% have severe disease and around 6% are critical.

Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person, within 1-2 metres, to be considered at-risk or a close contact.

Yesterday, Mr Trump declared a national emergency in a move that he said would bring "the full power of the federal government" to bear on the escalating health crisis by freeing up some $50bn in aid. He also urged every state to set up emergency centres to help fight the virus.

The pandemic has forced public schools, sports events and cultural and entertainment venues to close across the United States.

Yesterday, American shoppers picked grocery store shelves clean of products ranging from disinfectants to rice, causing retailers to race to restock their stores. In response to the run on certain items, major retailers have imposed some purchase limits.

Coronavirus took its biggest toll yet on this year's US presidential election when Louisiana announced it had postponed its Democratic and Republican presidential primaries.

Early today, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a coronavirus aid package that would provide free testing and paid sick leave, in a bid to limit the economic damage from the outbreak.

By a bipartisan vote of 363 to 40, the Democratic-controlled House passed a multi-billion dollar effort that would expand safety-net programs to help those who could be thrown out of work in the weeks to come. Mr Trump said he supported the package, raising the likelihood that it will pass the Republican-controlled Senate next week.

Economists say the impact of the outbreak on businesses could tip the US economy into recession.