The US President has now urged all American citizens to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and stop eating in bars, restaurants and food halls in a bid to tackle the crisis. The major escalation in government guidance is set to apply for 15 days, as the POTUS also encouraged children to stay home from school and urged people not to take discretionary travel.
The White House has released strict new guidelines to limit people’s interactions in an increasingly urgent bid to slow the virus in the next two weeks before U.S. hospitals are overwhelmed.
At his latest news conference President Trump referred to the coronavirus outbreak as an “invisible enemy” as he laid down the new restrictions.
“This is a bad one. This is a very bad one” he said.
These major changes could escalate even further as Mr Trump also said he was considering more drastic measures such as getting the army to help build hospitals or closing the US border.
“If everyone makes these critical changes and sacrifices now we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus and we’re going to have a big celebration all together,” Mr Trump said.
However, despite the overwhelming sense of urgency, the guidelines — including a strict recommendation that anyone with even minor symptoms stay home — are not mandatory.
The president acknowledged that the crisis could last until July or August and even plunge the nation into a recession.
The outbreak has already killed thousands around the world and set off a plunge of world markets.
The actions have been criticised by many, but some experts have backed the restrictions, insisting this is not an overreaction.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that while some people may perceive the guidelines as inconvenient or going too far, they should be taken seriously.
He said: “When you’re dealing with an emerging infectious diseases outbreak, you are always behind where you think you are if you think that today reflects where you really are.
“That’s not word speak. It means if you think you’re here,” Fauci said, gesturing to illustrate his point, “you’re really here because you’re only getting the results.
“Therefore, it will always seem that the best way to address it would be to be doing something that looks like it might be an overreaction. It isn’t an overreaction.”
Meanwhile, in the UK similar restrictions have been put in place by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr. Johnson urged everyone to avoid any “non-essential” contact with others including staying away from pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas.
He also called for people to stop any “unnecessary” travel around the country and appealed for everyone who can to work from home.
The new measures followed warnings the number of infections in the UK will double every five or six days unless drastic action is taken.
Officials warned the measures will be in force for a “prolonged period” lasting several months.
The Prime Minister said: “I can’t remember anything like it in my lifetime. I don’t think there has been anything like it in peacetime.
“We have to accept that it’s a very considerable, psychological behavioural change that we are asking the public, the nation to do. But I’ve absolutely no doubt we can do it together.”