US President Donald Trump has said that he would temporarily suspend immigration to the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic, despite the US already being the worst-hit country in the world.

Mr Trump referred to the "Invisible Enemy," a phrase he has used to describe the virus that has killed more than 42,000 people out of more than 766,660 infections in the US.

"In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!" he tweeted.

Mr Trump said the move would also protect Americans' jobs, though the state-imposed lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus have already left 22 million people out of work.

The tweet gave no further details about what the measure would entail, how it would be implemented or how long it would be in place.

The president has touted his move to restrict travel from China over the coronavirus in January after it emerged there late last year.

He halted travel from much of Europe in mid-March as the virus spread there. 

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Mr Trump has also at times appeared impatient with efforts intended to slow the spread of the virus in the US.

He has appeared to lend support to protesters angry at governors' stay-at-home orders and has said parts of the country can begin to abandon lockdown measures soon.


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He said yesterday, however, that "we've really done the right thing" on fighting the virus and that letting it spread unchecked would have been an "atrocity".

Mr Trump has been widely criticised for initially downplaying the virus, which he likened to an ordinary flu and said was under control in the US, before later accepting that it was a national emergency.

He campaigned for office on a platform of immigration skepticism and has made policies restricting immigration central to his presidency.

The State Department issued around 462,000 immigrant visas in the 2019 fiscal year, while US Citizens and Immigration Services granted permanent residence to nearly 577,000 individuals.

The latest move is also likely to affect those hoping to apply for permanent resident "green cards".

Meanwhile, Mr Trump has spoken to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is recovering from coronavirus at his Chequers country retreat. 

Downing Street said they discussed the need for an international response to the pandemic and a post-Brexit trade deal. 

Mr Johnson thanked Mr Trump and discussed the needed for a co-ordinated response to the disease. 

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister spoke to President Trump this afternoon, and thanked him for his good wishes while he was unwell. 

"The leaders agreed on the importance of a co-ordinated international response to coronavirus, including through the G7 - which the US currently chairs. 

"They also discussed continued UK-US co-operation in the fight against the pandemic. 

"The leaders committed to continue working together to strengthen our bilateral relationship, including by signing a free trade agreement as soon as possible."