The US State Department issued its highest-level travel warning for each of the world’s countries on Thursday, essentially warning against any travel abroad.
The move comes as countries try to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has thus far infected a reported 227,000 people and killed more than 9,300 worldwide.
Americans currently abroad were advised to return to the US as quickly as possible, or plan to shelter in place. The State Department said Americans who did not return immediately should be “prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.”
The announcement comes after Politico wrote that it was impending, citing unnamed sources in reporting that a blanket “Level 4” travel advisory would be applied to all international travel.
Under the State Department’s advisory system, Level 4 means “Do Not Travel.” While it is not necessarily a legal prohibition, it is considered a stringent warning of life-threatening hazards, and is typically reserved for war zones and countries with uncontained dangerous situations, like disease outbreaks or financial collapse.
The department warns a Level 4 advisory means that “during an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance.” Sixteen countries had Level 4 advisories before the blanket warning, including Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iran, and China.
The State Department did not immediately return a request for comment.
This story has been updated with confirmation of the advisory news, as previously reported by Politico.