(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday added a new destination to the category with the highest risk of covid-19 contagion: Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean.
The weekly travel risk level update brought good news for islands clustered in and around the Caribbean Sea, as nine destinations, including the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, dropped a notch compared to level 4.
The CDC places a destination at “Level 4: very high covid-19” when there are more than 500 cases per 100,000 population in the past 28 days.
Mauritius, located off the east coast of Africa, has recently seen a 180% increase in weekly cases, according to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO). Located about 1,100 km east of Madagascar, Mauritius was previously at level 3.
Last week, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Thailand were added to Tier 4.
To recap, only one destination was added to Tier 4 on March 14:
Following the drop in cases worldwide since the end of January, the WHO recorded an increase in cases worldwide in the week of March 7.
CDC: avoid Tier 4 destinations
There are currently some 125 destinations in Tier 4. Although the number of places in the “very high” risk category has fallen since it reached 140 in February, there are still more places in the Tier 4 than in all the other categories combined.
The CDC advises against travel to Tier 4 countries. The CDC’s thresholds for travel health notices are based primarily on the number of COVID-19 cases in a destination.
The CDC does not include the United States on its advisory list, but on March 14 it was assigned Level 4 on the agency’s travel risk levels map.
Among the favorite destinations for tourists who score at level 4 are Aruba, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Peru and Spain. The UK has been there since July 2021.
You can check the CDC’s risk levels for any global destination on their travel advice page.
In its broader travel guidelines, the CDC recommends avoiding all international travel until you are fully immunized.
Level 3 Changes
The Level 3 “high” risk category, which applies to destinations that have recorded between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 population in the past 28 days, saw nine additions on Monday, all in the Caribbean and Atlantic. .
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- British Virgin Islands
- Dominican Republic
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- San Martin
All of these destinations were previously at level 4.
Levels 2, 1 and unknown
Destinations in the “Level 2: Moderate COVID-19” category have recorded between 50 and 99 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 28 days. The four new Tier 2 destinations on March 14 are:
- cruise trip
All were previously at Level 3. Cruise travel was previously downgraded from Level 4 to Level 3 in mid-February and is now considered a “moderate” risk at Level 2.
To be in “Tier 1: Low Covid-19”, a destination must have less than 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. Eleven places went to level 1 on Monday:
- Burkina Faso
- Equatorial Guinea
- Sao Tome and Principe
The only destinations currently at Tier 1 outside of Africa are Chinese, Taiwan and the small Caribbean island of Saba.
Finally, there are destinations for which the CDC has an “unknown” risk due to a lack of information. These are usually, but not always, small remote places or places of war or unrest. The CDC did not add anything new to this category on Monday.
Tanzania, Cambodia Yes Macau are some of the most visited places currently listed under 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.”
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.
He further stated that people should wear a high quality mask (N95, KN95 or KF94) whenever they are in crowded indoor environments with unknown vaccination status.
Before traveling, it’s also important to think about what you would do if you ended up testing positive away from home, Wen said. Where will you be staying and how easy will it be to get tested to return home?