Trump considers quarantine on New York to stem virus spread

US president says he is considering a two-week enforced quarantine on New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.

    Trump confirmed the idea on Twitter and said a decision would be made shortly [File: Alex Brandon/AP Photo]
    Trump confirmed the idea on Twitter and said a decision would be made shortly [File: Alex Brandon/AP Photo]

    US President Donald Trump has said he was considering imposing a two-week quarantine on New York state and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut as part of efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

    Trump said on Saturday that he was considering placing a two-week enforced quarantine on New York, which he called a "hot spot". The quarantine might also apply to parts of the states of New Jersey and Connecticut.

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    "This would be an enforceable quarantine," Trump said from the White House. "I'd rather not do it, but we may need it."

    Later, the US leader confirmed the idea on Twitter. A decision "will be made, one way or another, shortly," he said

    But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who spoke with Trump earlier on Saturday, said this issue did not come up in those discussions.

    "I don't even know what that means," Cuomo told a news briefing. "I don't know how that could be legally enforceable. And from a medical point of view, I don't know what you would be accomplishing," Cuomo said.

    "But I can tell you, I don't even like the sound of it. Not even understanding what it is, I don't like the sound of it," the governor said

    The number of coronavirus cases reached over 52,000 in New York, the US epicentre of the outbreak, Cuomo said on Saturday.

    The sum of total known coronavirus cases in the US soared to 115,842, eclipsing the toll the disease has taken on China and Italy. At least 1,709 people have died in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

    Asked whether the military would be deployed to enforce any new quarantine in New York, Trump said. "We're not going to need much. And the people in New York, they understand it better than anybody and they'll be great." Trump added that he planned to discuss the issue with Cuomo later in the day.

    Trump appeared less certain about an earlier pledge to try to reopen US businesses by April 12. "Well, we're going to see what happens," Trump said. "We want to get our country back to work."

    Trump said that while most companies were assisting in combating the epidemic, he said he may have to invoke the Defense Production Act to compel one or two companies to produce further medical supplies.

    "We have a couple of little problem children, and we'll use it where we have to," he said. "But, overall, I tell you, the private free enterprise system is at work like nobody has seen in a long time."

    SOURCE: News agencies