Donald Trump declares national emergency amid coronavirus outbreak

  • Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

Donald Trump has declared a national emergency as the US struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The US president's move has freed up $50bn (£40bn) to fund to help state and local officials to fight Covid-19.

There are 1,701 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US, and 40 deaths.

Trump also admitted that the United Kingdom might be added to the list of countries from where travel to the US is banned, due to the increase in confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

"We are looking at based on the numbers coming out and we may need to include them in the list of the countries, you could say, ban during this period of time," Trump said.

The move comes as House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Trump administration are labouring to finish a coronavirus aid package that would fast-track federal aid to anxious Americans and calm teetering financial markets amid the global crisis.

Trump later confirmed that cruises will not be allowed to leave the US for 30 days.

Central to the effort is free testing for the virus and guaranteed sick pay for workers who are taking time away from jobs, along with an infusion of dollars to handle unemployment benefits and boost food programmes for children, families and the elderly.

Ms Pelosi and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated a deal was within reach after days of around-the-clock negotiations.

Republican leaders in Congress want to be sure that Mr Trump publicly supports the package before they sign off on it ahead of any vote, according to a top congressional aide .

Providing sick pay for workers is a crucial element of federal efforts to stop the rapid spread of the infection. Officials warn that the nation’s healthcare system could quickly become overwhelmed with gravely sick patients, as suddenly happened in Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus.

Bernie Sanders will no longer hold large political rallies. Credit: PA

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

Mr Trump said he will halt his signature campaign rallies, telling reporters he needs a “little separation until such time as this goes away”.

Democratic presidential rivals Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders said they would no longer hold large political gatherings and their staff would work from home as the race for the presidency moved online.

The coronavirus crisis also got personal for Mr Trump and some members of Congress.

Australian home affairs minister Peter Dutton is in isolation in hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus. He returned to Australia on Sunday from Washington, where he met attorney general William Barr and Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka.