CDC: Much of Europe still has the highest travel risk for Covid

(CNN) – For the third week in a row, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not add a single new destination to its highest-risk travel category 4 for travel.

In fact, seven destinations in Asia and the Caribbean moved to the CDC’s lowest risk category for travel during the pandemic, which is level 1. Moving into the enviable location on Monday were island excursions Phillipines and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

But large parts of Europe – including its popular travel power plants – remained stubbornly maintained at level 4.

Take the United Kingdom, for example. It has been at level 4 since 19 July 2021. It places England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all in the “Very High” risk category for Covid-19.

The CDC designates a destination at a level 4 risk when more than 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants has been registered within the last 28 days.

CDC: Avoid level 4 destinations

Ha’penny Bridge is a signature symbol of Dublin, Ireland. Like almost all of Europe, Ireland is at CDC level 4.

Shutterstock

It’s not just the UK. Many of the big names in Europe remain at level 4 as winter picks up and the spring travel season begins. On April 11, the list included the following locations:

• France
• Germany
• Greece
• Ireland
• Italy
Malta
• Netherlands
• Portugal
• Spain

However, it is not only Europe that has frequently visited destinations stuck at level 4 for now.

In Asia, Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand are at level 4. In South America, Brazil and Chile are still in the highest risk category. The same goes for the lush Central American vacation in Costa Rica. Other favorites waiting for a better grade from the CDC: Aruba, Australia and Bermuda.

Nevertheless, the general trend in risk levels has been declining for large parts of the world in recent weeks, and Africa in particular has seen its risk assessments fall.

At the end of February, the number of spots in level 4 grew to more than 140, illustrating the large selection and the rapid spread of Omicron. But on April 11, the number shrank to about 90 destinations. This is less than half of the approximately 235 sites that the CDC monitors.

The CDC recommends avoiding traveling to Level 4 countries. CDC thresholds for travel health messages are primarily based on the number of Covid-19 cases at a destination.

The CDC does not include the United States in its list of advice, but it was color-coded at level 3 on April 11 on the agency’s map of travel risk levels.
In its broader travel guide, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

Get level 3 changes

Views of the old town of the coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea.  Egypt was placed at level 3 by the CDC on Monday.

Views of the old town of the coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea. Egypt was placed at level 3 by the CDC on Monday.

Okla Michal / CTK / AP

Level 3 “High” risk category – which applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days – so only two additions on Monday. They were:

• Egypt
• Saint-Martin

Both had previously been at level 4.

People who want to take a trip to Europe but want to avoid the most vulnerable destinations have only a few choices here: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, all in the Balkan Peninsula or Armenia in the mountainous Caucasus region.

Level 2

Destinations bearing the term “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” have seen 50 to 99 Covid-19 cases per day. 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days.

The only new access to level 2 on April 11 is Guyana, a small nation in the north of South America that does not see much in the way of international visitors. Guyana had been at level 3.

Level 1

Pinagbuyutan Island is just one representative of the many amazing oceanic spots in the Philippines.  Travelers looking for a destination with a

Pinagbuyutan Island is just one representative of the many amazing oceanic spots in the Philippines. Travelers looking for a destination with a “low” risk rating from the CDC have it here, even though the locations change weekly.

Igor Tichonow / Adobe Stock

As a hopeful sign for travelers, level 1 saw most movement.

To be at “Level 1: Covid-19 Low”, a destination must have had fewer than 50 new cases per. 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. Seven places were moved to level 1 on Monday:

• Bangladesh
• Haiti
• Myanmar
• Phillipines
• Saint Kitts and Nevis
• Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
• Saudi Arabia

The main features belonged to Haiti, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia, which had been at level 4. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had been at level 3, and the rest relegated from level 2.

Most of the level 1 destinations are in Africa, including Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and Senegal.

Unknown

Finally, there are destinations where the CDC has an “unknown” risk due to lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places of ongoing warfare or unrest. The CDC made three additions to the category on Monday:

• Burkina Faso
• Faroe Islands
• Madagascar

Burkina Faso had been at level 1 and the other two at level 4.

The Azores, Cambodia, Macau and Tanzania are among the places currently listed in the unknown category. The CDC advises against traveling to these places precisely because the risks are unknown.

A medical expert weighs in on the level of risk

Transmission speeds are “one guide post” for travelers’ personal risk calculations, according to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

“We are entering a phase of the pandemic where people have to make their own decisions based on their medical conditions as well as their risk tolerance when it comes to incurring Covid-19,” Wen said in mid-February.

“You should interpret level 4 as meaning that this is a place with a lot of transmission of Covid-19 in the community. So if you go, there is a greater chance that you could be infected with coronavirus,” said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

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

“So this really has to be a personal decision that people are emphasizing to understand that right now the CDC is classifying the different levels based on community transmission rates, and basically just that,” Wen said. “They do not take into account individual circumstances.”

More consideration for travel

There are other factors to consider in addition to transmission speeds, according to Wen.

“Transmission speeds are one guideline,” Wen said. “Another is what precautions are required and followed at the place you are going, and then the third is what you plan to do once you are there.

“Do you plan on visiting a lot of attractions and going to indoor bars? It’s very different than going to a place where you plan to lie on the beach all day and not interact with anyone else. It’s very different. It is very different levels of risk. “

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

People should wear a high-quality mask – N95, KN95 or KF94 – whenever they are in crowded indoor environments with people with unknown vaccination status, she said.

And it’s also important to consider what you would do if you ended up testing positive away from home. Where should you live and how easy will it be to get a test to return home?

Top picture: The beach of Carvoeiro on the Algarve coast of Portugal. (Ines / Adobe Stock)

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