The European Union is considering its next steps on Thursday after US President Donald Trump announced a travel ban on almost all trips from 26 European countries for 30 days in a bid to halt the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic.

The bloc will “assess the situation” following Trump’s announcement, European Council President Charles Michel wrote on Twitter. “Economic disruption must be avoided,” he added.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called an emergency meeting with key EU commissioners on Thursday “in light of rapid developments.”

Topics include coordination of measures on health and borders among EU states and provision of protective equipment and a “package to prop up the EU economy,” she tweeted.

The travel ban is set to take effect Friday at midnight (0400 GMT), and does not include travellers from Britain or US citizens.

The ban will apply to anyone who was physically present within the Schengen Area freedom of movement area in the 14 days prior to their attempted entry to the US, with some exemptions. Schengen covers 26 countries, including four non-EU ones, but not Britain and Ireland.

It should not affect trade in goods, according to Trump. The EU and the United States are major trading partners.

The 27-country bloc, which already had a sluggish growth outlook, is bracing for the impact of the new coronavirus on its businesses.

So far 17,430 cases of the Covid-19 disease, caused by the new coronavirus and 711 fatalities have been reported in the EU and Britain, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, an EU agency, as of Wednesday.