For the first time in the agency’s history, the Peace Corps is halting its operations globally while simultaneously evacuating all of its volunteers.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread and international travel becomes more and more challenging by the day, we are acting now to safeguard your well-being and prevent a situation where Volunteers are unable to leave their host countries,” Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen wrote in a letter to volunteers.

This comes in the wake of a multitude of government agencies grappling with the coronavirus crisis and looking for ways to respond to the mutating virus which has killed thousands worldwide and led to nationwide lockdowns.

Olsen further wrote in the letter that Peace Corps volunteers have been evacuated from China and Mongolia but “it has become clear in the last 48 hours that numerous posts must follow suit”. “It is against this backdrop that I have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend all Peace Corps operations globally and evacuate all of our Volunteers,” he added.