The CDC adds 2 destinations to the “high” risk list for Covid-19

Editor’s Note – Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get news about destinations that open and close, inspiration for future adventures, plus the latest in aviation, food and drink, where to stay and other travel developments.

(CNN) – Tthey have American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added two destinations to its “high” category for Covid-19 risk – including a Caribbean nation popular for its beaches.

The the Dominican Republic and Kuwait, a country in the Middle East known for its cultural offerings, both are now listed as “Level 3: Covid-19 High.”

Level 3, or “high”, is now the top step in terms of risk level and 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.

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

In a weekly update with little movement overall, Monday’s move to level 3 is a big jump up for Kuwait, which had been at level 1. The Dominican Republic moved up from level 2.

There were almost 115 destinations at level 3 on 27 June. Level 3 sites account for almost half of the approximately 235 sites monitored by the CDC.

More about level 3

Large parts of Europe have been stubbornly at level 3 for several months with the summer travel season in full swing. From 27 June, the following popular European destinations were among those left at Level 3:

• France
• Germany
• Greece
• Ireland
• Italy
• The Netherlands
• Norway
• Portugal
• Spain
• Great Britain

Sightseeing ships offer stunning views of Istanbul. Turkey is at CDC’s level 3.

Nikolay N. Antonov / Adobe Stock

These are not the only high-profile places that are at level 3. Numerous 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 that you stay up to date with your Covid-19 vaccines before traveling to a level 3 destination. Being “up to date” means that you have not only received the full initial vaccinations, but also boosters for which you are eligible.

Level 2

A late afternoon view of Journalists' Park in Bogota, Colombia.  The South American nation is now at level 2.

A late afternoon view of Journalists’ Park in Bogota, Colombia. The South American nation is now at level 2.

Danaan Andrew-Pacleb / Adobe Stock

Destinations designated “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” reported 50 to 100 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. The CDC moved four seats to this level on Monday:

• Colombia
• Iraq
• Russia
• Saudi Arabia

The move was not good news for Colombia, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which had been at level 1.

There are a total of 21 places in the risk category “moderate” this week.

In its broader travel guide, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

Level 1

The Taj Mahal mausoleum is pictured in the Indian city of Agra on March 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Ludovic MARIN (Image credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP via Getty Images)

The Taj Mahal is India’s most iconic structure. India is currently at level 1.

Ludovic Marin / AFP via Getty Images

To be listed as “Level 1: Covid-19 Low”, a destination must have had 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. No new destinations were added to the category on 27 June.

Some of the more popular places in the “low” risk category this week include Indonesia, India and the Philippines.

Unknown

Finally, there are the destinations that the CDC has considered to have an “unknown” risk due to lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places of ongoing warfare or unrest.

This week, only rarely visited Djibouti on the Horn of Africa was added to this category.

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

A medical expert weighs in on risk levels

Transfer rates are just “one guide” for travelers’ personal risk calculations, according to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

We have moved into “a phase of the pandemic where people have 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, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

There are other factors to consider in addition to transfer rates, according to Wen.

“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,” she said.

Do you plan to visit many attractions and go to indoor bars? It is very different from going to a place where you plan to lie on the beach all day and not interact with anyone else. It is very different. They are very different risk levels. “

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 is also important to consider what you would do if you end up testing positive away from home.

“Of course, if people have symptoms or exposure while traveling, they need to be tested, and if they test positive, to follow the CDC’s isolation guidelines,” Wen told CNN Travel recently.
If you are concerned about a travel-specific health situation that is not related to Covid-19, check here.

Top image: Tropical beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (Valentin Valkov / Adobe Stock)