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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Joe Biden pushes ahead with ambitious Covid-19 plan

New restrictions put in place for travel to the US

President Joe Biden waves after attending Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, Washington. Patrick Semansky / AP
President Joe Biden waves after attending Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, Washington. Patrick Semansky / AP

Less than a week since President Joe Biden took office, he is launching plans to help curb the rise in coronavirus cases in the US.

The country has reported about 25 million cases including 400,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The Biden Administration is expected to reimpose a Covid-19 travel ban on most non-US citizens who have been in countries from which new, more contagious variants of the virus appeared, including Britain, Brazil and South Africa.

Last week, the president tightened mask-wearing rules and ordered quarantine for people flying into the US, a measure resisted by President Trump and previously established on a state-by-state basis instead.

“We’re in a national emergency. It’s time we treated it like one,” Mr Biden told reporters.

He said his strategy to combat the virus would be based on science.

The order also requires that all US-bound passengers ages two and up test negative for the coronavirus within three days of travelling.

Mr Biden and his coronavirus response team have stressed that the pandemic is far from over.

Despite efforts to continue a wide roll-out of the vaccine and a goal of 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days, they expect the death toll to rise to half a million by next month. But after a slow start to the vaccine programme, the number of Covid-19 jabs administered is now close to one million per day.

As many as 67 million Americans are expected to enjoy protection from the virus by the summer, according to the government's infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci.

Two doses are required for optimum protection from the virus.

Besides working to curb the continued rise in cases, the Biden administration and congressional Democrats are working towards passing a new $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package.

The new package, less than a week since its announcement, has hit a few snags as a result of pushback from Republicans.

It would include further stimulus checks as well as an expansion of unemployment benefits. Nearly 10 million Americans are unemployed, and thousands of businesses have closed since the pandemic's start, pushing the US further into an economic crisis.

Updated: January 25, 2021 12:55 PM

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