WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) - Some 13,500 U.S. citizens abroad are seeking State Department help to return home because of the coronavirus, a U.S. official said on Monday, urging Americans who are uncomfortable remaining overseas to “get out now” while commercial flights are still available.
The State Department this week will bring back about 1,600 Americans abroad on about 16 flights, the senior U.S. official told reporters, saying about 5,700 people have already come back, many through flights arranged by the agency.
The vast majority of an estimated 10 million U.S. citizens abroad live there and do not wish to return, the official said, but stressed Americans should weigh whether they are comfortable remaining overseas indefinitely.
“If you are somewhere where you think ‘no, this is not where I would want to be over the long haul,’ take advantage of existing commercial opportunities and get out now,” he said.
Fewer than 30 State Department employees overseas have tested positive for coronavirus, a second senior official said. More than 351,300 people have been infected globally and over 15,300 have died, according to a Reuters tally. (Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Richard Chang)