(Reuters) - U.S. humanitarian group the Peace Corps, said it will temporarily suspend all global operations and evacuate its volunteers, amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
“As COVID-19 continues to spread and international travel becomes more and more challenging by the day, we are acting now to ... prevent a situation where volunteers are unable to leave their host countries,” Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen said in a letter to volunteers posted on its website.
The group will return to normal operations when conditions permit, Olsen said, adding that host country staff will remain in their current positions.
The Peace Corps had recently evacuated volunteers from China and Mongolia due to the disease outbreak, it added.
Established in 1961, the Peace Corps has more than 7,300 volunteers spread across 61 countries working mainly to improve education and healthcare, according to data published on its website.
The coronavirus outbreak has so far infected over 169,000 people globally and killed more than 6,500. Several countries have imposed bans on mass gatherings such as sporting, cultural and religious events to combat the disease.
Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger