Kaelynn Williams, 25, thought she had about six more months in Mongolia, where she has been working as a Peace Corps volunteer for almost three years.

But this week all volunteers in her program were told they had to go home. For Williams, that means returning to Southwest Philadelphia and hoping she can get back to Mongolia.

“We’re crossing our fingers to make sure, to see if that’s possible,” she said.

There haven’t been any confirmed cases of coronavirus in Mongolia, but it has hit nearby countries hard. Mongolia borders China, where the virus began, and Mongolian Airlines has canceled flights to and from China, South Korea, and Japan.

The Peace Corps is a service program run by the U.S. government that sends volunteers to countries worldwide in fields such as education, agriculture, youth in development, environment, community economic development, and health. Most volunteers serve in a two-year-program with an additional three months of training. Mongolian volunteers work within their assigned communities on health and education projects, and learn the local languages, including Kazakh and Mongolian.

The way Williams and another third-year volunteer leader, Sean McLaughlin, 27, of Middletown, N.J., understand it, the program is being suspended because of all the flight cancellations. If a volunteer were to become infected with coronavirus, they said, there would not be a proper medical evacuation route available.

Though Williams and McLaughlin are disappointed to be leaving Mongolia sooner than expected, they understand why the Peace Corps made this decision and are grateful the agency is making sure they are safe.

An agency spokesperson confirmed that more than 90 volunteers from Mongolia were told Wednesday that the Peace Corps would begin evacuating them "due to travel constraints and ongoing school closings related to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

“The health, safety and security of volunteers are the Peace Corps’ highest priorities,” an agency spokesperson wrote in an email.