(CNN) — For the second week in a row, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not added a single new destination to its highest Level 4 risk category for travel.
More than a dozen destinations, including Canada and several Caribbean countries, moved from Level 4 to Level 3 on Monday.
The CDC places a destination in “very high” risk level 4 when there are more than 500 cases of covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. The Level 3 “high” risk category applies to destinations that have recorded between 100 and 500 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population in the past 28 days.
A total of 14 destinations were downgraded to Tier 3 on April 4:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- santa lucia
All 14 destinations previously belonged to Tier 4. The CDC advises avoiding travel to Tier 4 countries.
Although the CDC does not include the United States in its advisory list, it is part of its global map of travel risk levels. On Monday, the United States joined its northern neighbor in moving to level 3 on the map.
Falling risk levels are a bright spot in the travel landscape. Still, nearly 100 destinations remained at Level 4 as of April 4, or about 40% of the nearly 240 destinations covered by the CDC.
You can check the CDC’s risk levels for any global destination on their travel advice page.
In broader travel advice, the CDC recommends avoiding all international travel until fully vaccinated.
Change to level 2, level 1 and “unknown” status
Destinations designated as “Level 2: Moderate COVID-19 risk” have reported between 50 and 99 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 28 days. The five new Tier 2 entries on April 4 are
- Dominican Republic
- South Africa
All countries except Iraq were listed at Tier 3. Previously, Iraq was listed at Tier 4.
To be in “Tier 1: low risk of covid-19”, a destination must have less than 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the last 28 days. Six places went to level 1 on Monday:
All six destinations belonged to Tier 2. Only seven Tier 1 locations are outside of Africa.
Finally, there are destinations for which the CDC has an “unknown” level of risk due to a lack of information. These are usually, but not always, small remote places or places of war or unrest.
On Monday, the CDC added three to the unknown category: French Guiana, Greenland and Ukraine.
The ongoing war in Ukraine has undoubtedly disrupted the testing, processing and collection of covid-19 case numbers.
the Azores, Cambodia, Macao and Tanzania are some of the most visited places that are currently 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 estimating travelers’ personal risk, 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 situation as well as their tolerance for the risk of contracting Covid-19,” Wen said in mid-February.
“Level 4 should be interpreted to mean that it is a place where there is a lot of community transmission of Covid-19. So if you go there, there is a higher chance that you can catch the coronavirus,” said said Wen, who is an emergency room doctor and professor of health policy and management at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Some people will decide 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 it really has to be a personal decision that people make 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.”
Transmission rates are important to consider when making travel decisions, but there are also other factors to weigh, according to Dr. Leana Wen, CNN medical analyst, emergency physician and professor of politics and science. health management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
“Transmission rates are a guide,” 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.
“Do you plan on visiting a lot of attractions and going to closed bars? It’s very different from going to a place where you plan to be on the beach all day and not interacting with anyone else. These are very different levels of risk.”