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Trump Extends Travel Ban to UK and Ireland

President Donald Trump never misses an opportunity to promote his belief in borders and border walls as the panacea to every problem.


And like an annoying salesman trying to flog you the latest miracle car polish for every nick and scratch on your car, Trump again reaches for the border solution as the answer to the coronavirus pandemic.


Last week, Trump pulled the shutters down on 26 countries and allies in Europe, without advance warning or consultation with the governments of those countries. He banned passenger flights to the US coming from those countries.


And in typical Trumpian fashion, it is always the fault of everyone else - he blamed the EU for his decision, saying that the bloc failed to prevent travel from China into the EU. The UK and the Republic of Ireland were initially exempt from the ban because they are not part of the Schengen Agreement or area in the EU that does not have passport or border controls.


At the time, people were wondering why the two European countries were not part of the ban, given that regardless of the Schengen Agreement, Ireland was still part of the EU and has an open border with the UK. However, the reprieve hasn't lasted long because Trump has now added the UK and the Republic of Ireland to the list of banned European countries, bringing the total to 28.


So is this suspension of flights from Europe to the US going to make any difference? Not at all, apart from making some people in the US feel that their government is doing something. Coronavirus is already in the US and spreading fast.


The reason why the number of confirmed cases in a country the size of the US is relatively low, especially for a country that attracts many tourists from all around the world, and has citizens that travel widely all over the world, is because of a failure of the healthcare system in the US.


The fragmented healthcare system has led to a shortage of appropriate testing equipment for coronavirus. The number of confirmed infections should be significantly higher than the 3,000+ cases that have so far been detected. There will be a surge in the numbers when the administration is able to provide what public health officials need.


And back to Trump's ludicrous border closure, which will have no effect in limiting the impact of the virus in the US because it is already there and spreading exponentially. Not forgetting that the travel ban also had the unintended consequence of triggering a rush of US citizens trying to get back home from various places including virus hotspots.


The resulting chaos meant that returnees were packed into airport halls - one of the most notorious places for disease transmission. There is nothing building walls or closing borders can do to deal with such a situation.

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