- President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic
- The declaration frees up over KSh 5 trillion in financial resources to assist with the crisis
- Trump also announced a set of measures aimed at stemming the effects of the outbreak
- They include waiving certain laws and license requirements to give more flexibility to healthcare providers
- Up to 500,000 additional coronavirus tests will be available while private labs and vaccine developers will be able to provide five million tests
- Interest on all student loans is to be waived until further notice
United States of America (USA) President Donald Trump on Friday, March 13, declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, speaking from the White House Rose Garden further announced a set of specific measures aimed at stemming the effects of the outbreak.
The emergency declaration will free up as much as $50 billion in financial resources to efforts by states and U.S. territories to assist those affected by the outbreak.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government ... I am officially declaring a national emergency. Two very big words," Trump said.
“The next eight weeks are critical,” the president added.
The move loosens regulations on the provision of healthcare and could speed up testing - the slow pace of which has been criticised widely.
The president said the emergency measures will allow maximum flexibility to respond to the virus and to care for patients.
He said some of the steps could open up such local innovations as drive-through testing and that no resource will be spared.
Word of the announcement comes amid efforts by the House to agree with the administration on a massive federal response to the crisis following a week of huge swings on Wall Street.
There are 1,701 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 disease in the US and 40 deaths have so far been recorded.
Several US states had taken measures to stem the infections rate, including banning large gatherings, sporting events and closing schools.
Amongst the measures envisaged as part of the emergency response include the Health Secretary waiving certain laws and license requirements to give more flexibility to healthcare providers
Hospitals have been asked to activate their emergency preparedness plans.
Up to 500,000 additional coronavirus tests will be available by early next week, though authorities are not recommending tests without a clear need.
Private labs and vaccine developers will be able to provide five million coronavirus tests within the month, though authorities are not recommending tests for those without symptoms
Interest on all student loans is to be waived until further notice as a measure to ease the burden for students as universities and colleges across the country shut their doors.
The administration stepped up its efforts in the immediate aftermath of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic with a death toll of 5000.
Enjoyed reading our story? Download BRIEFLY's news app on Google Play now and stay up-to-date with major South African news!