Washington, March 15 (IANS) US airports have been thrown into chaos as new coronavirus health screening measures for people returning from Europe came into force, a media report said on Sunday.
Long queues formed as travellers waited for hours for the screenings before passing through customs, the BBC report said.
People have been tweeting pictures and videos of passengers waiting to be processed, forming large crowds in airport terminals.
One user said: “This is not good, Trump has literally created a perfect storm to transmit #COVID19. Don’t even know where to start with this one.”
Another tweet said that the “US government created health risk at airports all across the country. It’s difficult to comprehend how ill-prepared this administration is for this crisis”.
Taking to Twitter on Saturday, Illinois governor JB Pritzker said the long lines at Chicago’s O’Hare airport were “unacceptable”.
Passengers were currently being questioned about their medical histories and checked for symptoms at airports across the US.
Responding to the chaos, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said on Saturday that his office was working with airlines to improve screening times, the BCB reported.
This development comes as the US has extended its Europe travel restrictions to Britain and Ireland due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be effective from Monday midnight.
“We suspend all travel from the UK and Ireland, that will be effective midnight Monday night eastern standard time,” said Vice President Mike Pence at a White House briefing on Saturday.
The travel ban that Washington imposed on 26 European nations has been effective since Friday midnight, the same day when President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to open up $50 billion in federal aid to help combat the spread of COVID-19 across the country.
The US has more than 2,700 confirmed cases, with 54 deaths.