CDC Revises Travel Warning List; much of Europe is now at ‘high’ risk

(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled its new travel risk assessment system on Monday.

Many European countries are now considered at “high” risk for Covid-19, along with other high-profile destinations around the world.

The new system classifies destinations into the following categories:

• Level 3: high risk of Covid-19
• Level 2: moderate risk of Covid-19
• Level 1: low risk of Covid-19
• Unknown: insufficient data to assess the risk

The big change comes at level 4, which was regularly used for places considered “very high” risk for travellers. Level 4 will no longer be systematically used for this purpose.

Instead, a Level 4 notice is reserved, under the new system, only for special circumstances.

These circumstances include “an extremely high number of cases, the emergence of a concerning new variant, or the collapse of healthcare infrastructure,” the CDC said. “Other factors that may be taken into account include information such as vaccination rate and hospitalization rate.”

Tiers 3, 2, and 1 will still be primarily determined by the previous 28-day incidence or case count formula.

The overhaul comes amid a backdrop of U.S. government agencies and the public continuing to respond and adapt to an ever-changing — and sometimes deeply disagreeing — pandemic.

On Monday, a federal judge in Florida struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for airplanes and other public transportation, and a Biden administration official said the order is no longer in effect while the decision was reconsidered.

CDC Level 3

Colorful traditional Asian fishing boats can be spotted on Langkawi Island in Malaysia, currently at Tier 3.

vasilygureev/Adobe Stock

Under the new system, the Tier 3 “high” risk category applies to destinations that have recorded more than 100 cases per 100,000 population in the past 28 days.

But other stalwarts of the European travel scene also fall into the “high” risk category. On April 18, they included:

• Germany
• Greece
• Ireland
• Italy
• Portugal
• Spain
• UK

It’s not just the European favorites who find themselves on this rebooted list. Other popular travel locations around the world also at level 3 include:

• Brazil
• Canada
• Egypt
• Malaysia
• Mexico
• South Korea
• Thailand

In all, there were just over 120 destinations at Tier 3 by late Monday afternoon. The CDC reports about 235 places in total.

The CDC advises you to be up-to-date with your Covid-19 vaccines before traveling to a Tier 3 destination. “Up-to-date” includes not only complete initial vaccinations, but also any boosters for which you are eligible.

The CDC does not include the United States in its advisory list.

Level 2

Mi Teleferico is a cable car located in the city of La Paz, Bolivia.  This South American country is at Tier 2.

Mi Teleferico is a cable car located in the city of La Paz, Bolivia. This South American country is at Tier 2.

saiko3p/Adobe Stock

Destinations with the designation “Level 2: Moderate Covid-19” report 50 to 100 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population in the past 28 days.

There were just 11 entries on Monday, scattered in locations around the world. The most notable names were:

• Bolivia
• Peru
• South Africa
• Sri Lanka
• Turks and Caicos Islands

In its broader travel advice, the CDC recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully immunized.
If you are concerned about a health situation unrelated to Covid-19, check here.

Level 1

Are you looking for a nation currently at level 1?  Consider Kenya.  Here, elephants roam past Mount Kilimanjaro in Amboseli National Park.

Are you looking for a nation currently at level 1? Consider Kenya. Here, elephants roam past Mount Kilimanjaro in Amboseli National Park.

Stock Dan/Adobe

This level is dominated by destinations in Africa and had almost 55 entries in the first week under the new system.

To be at “Level 1: Covid-19 low”, a destination must have 49 new cases or less per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days.

Some of the notable places include:

• Colombia
• Dominican Republic
• India
• Jamaica
• Philippines
• Senegal


Finally, there are destinations for which the CDC has an “unknown” risk due to lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places where war or unrest is going on.

The Azores, Cambodia, and Nicaragua are among the locations currently listed in the unknown category. The CDC advises against travel to these places precisely because the risks are unknown.

Medical expert weighs in on risk levels

Transmission rates are “a benchmark” for travelers’ personal risk calculations, according to CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

We have entered “a phase of the pandemic where people have to make their own decisions based on their medical situation as well as their risk tolerance when it comes to contracting Covid-19,” said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor. in Health Policy and Management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Some people will decide the risk is too high for them in the higher categories, Wen said. “Other people will say, ‘Because I’m vaccinated and boosted, I’m willing to take that risk.’

“So it really has to be a personal decision that people weigh knowing that right now the CDC is categorizing the different tiers based on community transmission rates, and basically just that,” Wen said. “They don’t take into account individual circumstances.”

More Travel Considerations

There are other factors to weigh in addition to transmission rates, according to Wen.

“Transmission rates are a benchmark,” Wen said. “Another is what precautions are needed and followed where you are going, and then the third is what you plan to do once you get there.

“Are you planning on visiting a lot of attractions and going to indoor bars? It’s very different from going somewhere where you plan to lay on the beach all day and not interact with anyone outside. “other. It’s very different. It’s very different levels of risk.”

Vaccination is the most important safety factor for travel, as unvaccinated travelers are more likely to get sick and transmit Covid-19 to others, Wen said.

And it’s also important to think about what you would do if you became positive outside of your home. Where will you be staying and how easy will it be to take a test to return home?

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