To date, an estimated 80% of countries have been placed on a “do not travel” advisory list by the US State Department for varying reasons, with the novel coronavirus being one of the more cited reasons.
The US State Department issued a new travel advisory on Tuesday that called on all Americans interested in leaving Afghanistan to do so “as soon as possible.”
The new alert urges Americans against traveling to the Middle Eastern country due to “COVID-19, crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping and armed conflict.”
Figures provided by Worldometer state that Afghanistan has registered nearly 60,000 new COVID-19 cases to date, with reports having increased throughout the last several months. An estimated 204 new COVID-19 cases were documented on Monday.
“US citizens wishing to depart Afghanistan should leave as soon as possible on available commercial flights,” the announcement reads, putting the nation under a “level 4: do not travel” warning. Level 4 is the highest level that the State Department issues.
The notice further indicates that the agency ordered the majority of employees stationed at the US Embassy in Kabul to evacuate and that as such, routine services would be difficult to provide to Americans within Afghanistan.
“Evacuation options from Afghanistan are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and the volatile security situation,” the agency explains.
An earlier update provided by the State Department saw about 80% of countries worldwide being upgraded to a “do not travel” designation as a result of the pandemic. At the time, an agency official told CNBC that the “updated framework will help Americans make better-informed decisions about the safety of international travel.”
The mid-April update saw countries including Canada, France and Mexico being recategorized under the level 4 advisory.
The latest development also comes as both American and NATO forces have begun withdrawal procedures from bases in Afghanistan. While the military bloc intends to have troops fully withdrawn by May 1, US President Joe Biden recently announced US forces would be gone by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.