Nevada airport
The nearly empty baggage claim area at McCarran International Airport as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 19, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On Tuesday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a statewide closure of all nonessential businesses, including all hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, for at least 30 days to help combat the spread of the virus. Image Credit: AFP

Washington: The United States said Friday it was suspending all routine visa services around the world due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

US embassies and consulates will still consider emergency visas if they have adequate staff, the State Department said.

"In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all US embassies and consulates," a travel advisory said.

The State Department had already said it was suspending visa issuance at most posts overseas. But Friday's order was global and, while temporary, there was no date set for services to resume.

The suspension will not in itself affect travellers, largely from Western and wealthy Asian nations, who can come to the United States without visas.

However, the United States has temporarily halted arrivals of most Europeans in a move to halt the spread of the pandemic.

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US embassies will still be open and available to assist US citizens, the State Department said.

The State Department has nonetheless urged all Americans overseas to come home if commercial flights are available due to limited assistance available and travel bottlenecks created by the pandemic.