Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations screen international passengers arriving at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., on Friday. On Thursday, the State Department advised all Americans to stop international travel. Photo by Glenn Fawcett/U.S. Customs and Border Protection | License Photo
March 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department on Thursday advised all U.S. citizens to avoid traveling internationally and warned those currently out of the country to immediately return home amid a coronavirus pandemic that's killed at least 9,700 globally.
Federal authorities issued a rare Level 4 "Do Not Travel" guideline for all foreign countries. The warning comes as the United States and other countries close their borders and limit international flights to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period," the State Department said in its notice. "U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel."
Officials warn that those who choose to travel internationally should expect their plans to be "severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe."
President Donald Trump previously shut down travel between the United States and China, the European Union and Canada.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there were 237,996 confirmed cases of coronavirus and at least 9,790 deaths worldwide. In the United States there were a confirmed 11, 274 cases and 157 deaths as of 2 p.m. EDT.
Meanwhile, there's been some concern for Americans who say they're trapped in other countries due to travel restrictions put in place there. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday his department's working to get them back to the United States.
"We know of students that are in Peru, some other travelers that are there as well. There are other countries, too, where those countries have shut down their airports," he said during a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity.
"We are working to try and solve problems for each of those American citizens. We just learned about them over the last couple days; it'll take us some amount of time. But know that President Trump has made clear that we're going to do everything we can to get every American home safely."