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COVID-19

Coronavirus: What you need to know about Trump’s Europe travel ban

US President Donald Trump has announced a travel ban from most European countries in response to the coronavirus spread.

Coronavirus: What you need to know about Trump's Europe travel ban
Donald Trump announces his Europe travel ban. AFP

The ban, which does not include the UK or Ireland, will begin at 11.59pm on Friday, March 13th and last for 30 days. It will include all countries in Europe's Schengen area.

That means all foreign nationals, unless they are exempt from the ban (see below) won't be allowed to board planes for the US from Schengen countries while the ban is in place.

The restrictions do not apply to permanent residents in the US who need to get home to the US or their close family members, although it is possible that airlines may cancel flights in the days ahead as passenger numbers fall.

The countries in the Schengen area are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Trump blamed EU countries for not acting quickly enough to stem the spread of the “foreign virus”. The president had previously banned travel from China when the virus was spreading rapidly through the country.

“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travellers from Europe.”

At least 1,257 people in 44 states and Washington, DC have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the latest figures from the New York Times database. At least 37 patients with the virus have died.

In Europe the number of cases has passed the 22,000 mark with 930 deaths.

Trump said: “In total, as of March 9th, 2020, the Schengen Area has exported 201 COVID-19 cases to 53 countries. Moreover, the free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.”

What we know about who is affected by the ban and who isn't

It affects most foreign nationals who have been in Schengen area countries for 14 days before the ban comes into place at 11.59pm Friday March 13th.

It won't affect flights that depart before then but are due to land in the US after that time.

“I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States,” reads the full text of the restrictions.

The restriction doesn't apply to travel from the UK or Ireland, but it was unclear how US authorities plan to deal with foreign nationals travelling from Europe to the US via those countries.

Permanent residents of the US are not affected by the ban as are certain family members such as their children. Children of US nationals or permanent residents will also be allowed entry.

Legal spouses of US citizens or permanent residents are also not affected as are parents of US citizens or permanent residents as long as their children are unmarried and under the age of 21.

Siblings of US citizens or permanent residents are also exempt, “provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21.”

Other exceptions are made for foreign nationals including crew members on planes or boats, UN or Nato employees and those travelling on the invitation of the US government.

It also exempts “any alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services”.

The US Department of Homeland Security has said that further guidance on the travel suspension will come within the next two days.

The declaration warns that: “An alien who circumvents the application of this proclamation through fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or illegal entry shall be a priority for removal by the Department of Homeland Security.

How has Europe reacted?

So far reaction to Trump's ban has been muted but that may change throughout the day.

President of the European Council Charles Michel tweeted “we will assess the situation today.”

“Economic disruption must be avoided. Europe is taking all necessary measures to contain the spread of the COVID19 virus, limit the number of affected people and support research.”

The World Health Organisation has previously advised against closing borders and banning international travel.

 

Member comments

  1. The restriction doesn’t apply to travel from the UK, but it was unclear how US authorities plan to deal with foreign nationals travelling from Europe to the US via the UK. EXACTLY.
    Can we spell IRRESPONBIBLE?

  2. You need to have your passport associated to your ticket days in advance of your flight to USA. When we flew back to the USA from Sweden we went from Stockholm to Denmark, thru Danish passport kontrol then to the USA so the passport had multiple stamps plus RFID so they’d know when you board the plane with final destination to USA where you came from and would probably exclude you from boarding. In the airport you were screened and kept in a separate area so they knew who was cleared to go to the USA (and this was 2016 in Copenhagen). I would not call myself a big supporter of the president, but if everyone gets sick at once, health care will be overwhelmed. We are all going to get this eventually most likely, but by delaying transfer it’ll spread out the cases.

    I can remember days when one kid got chicken pox other parents sent their kid over so they’d get it too, this isn’t like that. You don’t want this and shouldn’t circulate it.

  3. So, apparently, the Virus was introduced to America by Foreigners visiting the USA? He must mean that, as U.S. Citizens can still fly Home from the E.U.
    I wonder what would have been his reaction if the E.U. had at the get-go stopped flights to the U.S.A. so therfore stopping any US Citizens flying Home!
    Hmmmm…

  4. The US citizens or permanent residents won’t Carry or spread the virus, how does Trump know this? It’s important to come home and be with families but being safe is the most important. So why ban only Schengen Zone residents?

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HEALTH

How is Swiss healthcare system different from the rest of Europe?

Switzerland’s health infrastructure is consistently rated among the best in the world, but how does it compare with other countries?

How is Swiss healthcare system different from the rest of Europe?

Whether in terms of politics, social system or economy, the Swiss often chart their own course, which fundamentally diverges from that of its European neighbours.

Healthcare is no exception.

The differences lie primarily in who finances the scheme — public versus private — and how the overall system functions.

Like much of the European Union, Switzerland has a universal health system, which means everyone in the country is covered by insurance and has access to medical care.

In most countries, the government typically has control, to a lesser or greater extent, over funding, health insurance, and health providers.

In France, for instance, most healthcare costs are covered by the state healthcare system, known as assurance maladie, and this is funded by taxes – healthcare costs account for about 13 percent of the average person’s gross salary.

In Germany, health costs are shared by employers and workers, with employees paying 7.5 percent of their salaries into a public health insurance fund, and companies matching that amount.

Italy’s national, system, called the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, or simply SSN, which is financed mainly though federal and regional taxes, automatically covers all residents. Medical care is largely free of charge at the point of service.

Public healthcare also exists in Austria, with certain portions of salaries being automatically deducted to fund the scheme. However, healthcare is free of charge for low-income people or those who who are disabled, studying, or retired.

Although no longer part of the EU, the UK health system is also based on state healthcare via the NHS. It is funded by taxes which account for about 4.5 percent of the average citizens’ gross income.

What about Switzerland?

The system here is fundamentally different in that it is not tax-based or financed by employers, but rather by individuals themselves.

Everyone must have a basic health insurance coverage and purchase it from one of dozens of private carriers.

Basic insurance — KVG in German and LaMal in French and Italian — is compulsory in Switzerland. It doesn’t come cheap — premiums are based on the canton of residence and age, costing 300 to 400 francs a month on average — but it is quite comprehensive; it includes coverage for illness, medications, tests, maternity, physical therapy, preventive care, and many other treatments.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about health insurance in Switzerland

There are no employer-sponsored or state-run insurance programmes, and the government’s only role is to ensure that all insurance companies offer the same basic coverage to everyone and that they have the same pricing.

While companies can’t compete on prices or benefits offered by the basic compulsory insurance — which are defined by the Health Ministry — they can, and do, compete on supplemental polices which offer perks not included in the basic coverage.

READ MORE: What isn’t covered by Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance?

All policies have deductibles (also called co-pays) that can range from 300 to 2,500 francs a year.

After the deductible is reached, 90 percent of all medical costs will be covered by insurance, with 10 percent being paid by the patient; however, this co-pay is capped at 700 francs a year for adults and 350 francs for children under 18.

The government does subsidise healthcare for the low-income individuals and households – defined as those for whom insurance premiums exceed 10 percent of their income.

What percentage of a person’s income goes to health insurance premiums?

This depends on wages and premiums, for instance, whether a person chose the cheapest option with a high deductible or the expensive one with a 300-franc deductible.

Generally speaking, however, based on the average monthly income of just over 7,000 francs, about 6.5 percent is spent on premiums.

What happens if you don’t take out an health insurance policy?

Anyone who arrives in  Switzerland must get insured within three months. If you don’t, the government will choose one for you and send you the bill. If this happens you may end up with more expensive premiums than you might have gotten if you shopped around yourself.

If you are still delinquent on your payments, your healthcare will be restricted to emergencies only; any other non-urgent medical treatment will be denied, unless you pay for it out of pocket.

The pros and cons of the Swiss system

Let’s look at the ‘cons’ first. Basically, there is one: the cost.

Not only are insurance premiums high and steadily increasing, but, at 7,179 francs per capita, Switzerland has the third most expensive healthcare scheme in the world — behind only the United States ($12,318) and Germany ($7,383).

Unlike taxpayer-funded models, there is no price grading according to income, so people on a low income pay a high proportion of their income for healthcare than higher earners. 

However, the system is generally efficient, has an extensive network of doctors, as well as well-equipped hospitals and clinics.

Patients are free to choose their own doctor and usually have unlimited access to specialists.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to see a specialist doctor in Switzerland without a referral

Waiting lists for medical treatments are relatively short.

According to a survey by the Organisation  for Economic Cooperation and Development  (OECD) on how long patients in various countries typically wait for an appointment with a specialist, the share of people in Switzerland waiting a month or more is 23 percent, compared to 36 percent in France, 52 percent in Sweden, and 61 percent in Norway.

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