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Pompeo: U.S. has repatriated 50,000 amid coronavirus travel restrictions

Pompeo: U.S. has repatriated 50,000 amid coronavirus travel restrictions
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that that 50,000 Americans have returned to the United States from more than 90 countries. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

April 8 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the United States has repatriated 50,000 citizens since Jan. 29 amid travel restrictions related to the global COVID-19 outbreak.

During a briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Pompeo said that 50,000 Americans have returned to the United States from more than 90 countries on more than 490 flights.

He added that the State Department is working with foreign governments, militaries, airport authorities, medical units, transportation companies and hotels to return thousands of Americans still outside the country and will continue repatriation efforts until people are able to travel on their own.

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"We hope that day comes soon where they won't have to rely on the State Department to get them back home," he said. "In the meantime, we're devoting all the resources we have to get them. They're often in difficult places, they're not in the capital near the airport or the roads are closed so it's not just a matter of getting a flight down there."

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Ian Brownlee, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs and head of the U.S. repatriation task force, urged Americans on Tuesday to return home immediately or "be ready to remain where you are."

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As of Tuesday, William Walters, deputy chief medical officer for Operations of the Bureau of Medical Operations, said 190 State Department employees at missions worldwide had been confirmed infected with coronavirus and three have died, while there were 41 domestic cases in the State Department and no deaths.

Pompeo said that all State Department facilities, except those in Wuhan, China, where the virus was first reported, remain open and that the agency is doing "everything we can to make sure that not just the State Department officials but our Department of Defense colleagues that are working on these missions as well are doing so in a way that reduces risk to them and their well-being also."

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