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CDC adds 6 locations to its “high” COVID travel risk category

(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, added six destinations to its “high” risk category for travel on Monday, due to the increase in covid-19 infections.

Two Central American countries—El Salvador and Honduras—received a level 3 “high” risk designation. Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, and Fiji were also added to Tier 3.

Level 3 became the highest rung in terms of risk level in April after the CDC revised its rating system to assess the risk of Covid-19 to travelers.

The designation applies to places that have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. Level 2 and Level 1 are considered “moderate” and “low” risk, respectively.

These six destinations received designated “high” risk designations on July 25, 2022.

• Bangladesh
• Bosnia y Herzegovina
• The Savior
• Fiji
• Honduras
• Poland

There were more than 120 Tier 3 destinations on July 25. Tier 3 locations represent about half of the approximately 235 locations monitored by the CDC.

Level 4, previously the highest-risk category, is now reserved for only special circumstances, such as extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or collapse of the health care infrastructure. Under the new system, no Tier 4 destinations have been placed so far.

More about Level 3 travel risk

Much of Europe has been stubbornly staying in Tier 3 for months with the summer travel season in full swing. As of July 25, the following popular European destinations were among those remaining in Tier 3:

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• France

• Germany

• Greece

• Ireland

• Italia

• Netherlands

• Norway

• Portugal

• Spain

• United Kingdom

Those aren’t the only high-profile locations that are in Tier 3. Many other destinations around the world are among those in the “high” risk category, including the following:

• Brazil

• Canada

• Costa Rica

• Malaysia

• Mexico

• South Korea

• Thailand

• Turkey

The CDC recommends getting up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccinations before traveling to a Tier 3 destination. Being “up-to-date” means you’ve received not only your initial full vaccinations, but also any boosters for which you’re eligible.

Level 2 travel risk due to covid-19

The Philippines, with Coron Island pictured, is up to “moderate” travel risk. (Credit: Nguyen Duy Phuong/Adobe Stock)

Destinations carrying the “Level 2: Moderate Covid-19” designation reported 50 to 100 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 in the past 28 days. The CDC designated five new Tier 2 locations on Monday:

• Equatorial Guinea

• India

• Moldavia

• Filipinas

• Togo

The move was bad news for the five places, which have moved up from Tier 1. There are fewer than 20 places in the “moderate” risk category this week.

You can view the CDC’s risk levels for any global destination on the agency’s travel advisory page.

In its broader travel guide, the CDC recommends being up-to-date on your vaccinations before traveling internationally.

Level 1

To be listed as “Tier 1: Low Covid-19,” a destination must have had 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over the past 28 days. Two new places were added to the category on July 25: Angola and Comores.

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There are more than 30 places in the “low” risk category this week.

Some of the most popular places in the “low” risk category this week include Indonesia and Tanzania.

unknown destinations

Finally, there are the destinations that the CDC has deemed to be of “unknown” risk due to a lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places with ongoing wars or riots. Two locations were added this week: Dominica and Ethiopia.

The CDC advises against traveling to these places precisely because the risks are unknown. Other destinations in this category that typically attract more attention from tourists include French Polynesia, Hungary, Macau, and the Maldives.

There are almost 65 places listed as “unknown” this week.

A medical expert assesses travel risk levels

Transmission rates are just “a guideline” for estimates of personal risk for travelers, according to Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst.

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

There are other factors to consider besides transmission rates, according to Wen.

“Another is what precautions are required and followed where you’re going and then the third is what do you plan to do once you’re there,” he said.

“Do you plan to visit a lot of attractions and go to closed bars? That’s very different than going to a place where you plan to spend all day on the beach and not interact with anyone else. That’s very different. Those are very different levels of risk.”

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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 consider what you would do if you end up testing positive away from home.

While US-bound travelers no longer have to provide a negative COVID-19 test to return home from international destinations, the CDC still recommends getting tested before boarding flights back to the US and not traveling. if you are sick.

“Of course, if people have symptoms or exposure while traveling, they should get tested, and if they test positive, follow CDC isolation guidelines,” Wen told CNN Travel recently.

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