CDC adds 5 more Caribbean island destinations to ‘very high’ risk list

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(CNN) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved five Caribbean island destinations to the highest-risk travel category for Covid-19 on Monday.

In total, the CDC moved 15 positions to level 4, or “very high” risk, showing the continued hold that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has on the world right now. Last week, 22 destinations were added to level 4.

The CDC places a destination at Level 4 when more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents have been recorded in the past 28 days. The CDC advises travelers to avoid traveling to Tier 4 countries.

The 15 places added this week are:

• Colombia
• Costa Rica
• Dominican Republic
• Fiji
• Guadeloupe
• Jamaica
• Kuwait
• Mongolia
• Niger
• Peru
• Romania
• San Bartolomeo
• Saint martin
• Tunisia
• United Arab Emirates

Destinations on the Caribbean islands – the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin – accounted for a third of the new entries this week. Haiti, which is located on the island of Hispaniola next to the Dominican Republic, was already at level 4. And the French Saint Martin also shares an island with the Dutch Sint Maarten, who was already at level 4.

Other popular Caribbean destinations were also already at level 4. They include Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Curacao, and Turks and Caicos, among others.

Two continental countries with Caribbean coasts – Costa Rica in Central America and Colombia in South America – are also at level 4.

The Inca site of Machu Picchu is the most famous tourist spot in Peru.  On Monday, Peru entered the CDC's highest risk level for Covid-19.

The Inca site of Machu Picchu is the most famous tourist spot in Peru. On Monday, Peru entered the CDC’s highest risk level for Covid-19.

Ernesto Benavides / AFP via Getty Images

Other major travel hotspots were added to level 4 this week that the CDC suggests travelers avoid: Peru, home to Machu Picchu, and the United Arab Emirates, where Dubai is located.

Last week, 14 of the 15 destinations were at level 3, which is considered a “high” risk for Covid-19.

Niger, a landlocked nation in West Africa known for its ancient caravan cities, was at level 1, considered “low” risk.

The level 4 list now contains nearly 120 places. There were around 80 destinations in early January, further demonstrating the reach of the Omicron variant.
The CDC does not include the United States in its list of alerts, but on January 24 it was color-coded to level 4 on the agency’s travel risk levels map.
In its broader travel guide, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

Situation in Europe

While most of the Caribbean is moving to level 4 this week, most of Europe has been firmly housed there for weeks or months. Those places include some of the biggest names on the continent.

• France
• Germany
• Greece
• Iceland
Ireland
• Italy
• Spain
• United Kingdom

Romania is the only new European addition to level 4 this week.

Level 3 additions

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

The Taj Mahal mausoleum is the iconic symbol of India, which has had wide swings with Covid-19. Cases of Omicron in India are on the rise and have moved to CDC level 3.

Ludovic Marin / AFP via Getty Images

Tier 3 category, which applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, saw 10 additions on Monday:

• Djibouti
• Equatorial Guinea
• Guatemala
• India
• Japan
• Kosovo
• Kyrgyzstan
• Mali
• Republic of the Congo
• Senegal

Four of the destinations – Equatorial Guinea in Central Africa; Japan; Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia; and Senegal in West Africa – had been at “low” risk level 1.

The remaining six were on level 2.

Levels 2, 1 and unknown

Destinations carrying the “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” designation have seen 50 to 99 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. That level only saw two new additions on Monday.

they were Bangladeshwhich was on level 1, and tiny sultanate of Bruneiwhich had been “unknown” last week.

To be in “Level 1: Low Covid-19”, a destination must have fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. No new additions were made on Monday.

China, which will host the Olympic Winter Games in February, has been at level 1 from May 2021. It is one of only dozen destinations currently at level 1.

Finally, there are destinations for which the CDC has an “unknown” risk due to lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small and remote places or places with ongoing wars or riots. There were no additions this week.

Popular destinations at “unknown” risk include Cambodia, French Polynesia and Tanzania. The CDC advises against traveling to these places precisely because the risks are unknown.

Cruise

A docked Norwegian Gem cruise ship was seen at the Port of Miami in 2021.

A docked Norwegian Gem cruise ship was seen at the Port of Miami in 2021.

Chandan Khanna / AFP / Getty Images

On December 30, the CDC increased the risk for cruise ship travel to Level 4 and said it should be avoided, regardless of vaccination status. It remained at level 4 in the latest update.

Travel considerations

Transmission speeds are important to consider when making travel decisions, but there are other factors to consider as well, according to Dr. Leana Wen, CNN medical analyst, emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at George. Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“Transmission speeds are a benchmark,” Wen said. “Another is what precautions are required and followed in the place where you are going and then the third is what are you going to do once you are there.

“Are you going to visit a lot of attractions and go to indoor bars? It’s very different than going to a place where you plan to lay on the beach all day and not interact with anyone else. It’s very different. Those are very risky levels. different”.

Vaccination is the most significant safety factor for travel as unvaccinated travelers are more likely to get sick and pass COVID-19 to others, Wen said.

He 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.

Before traveling, it’s also important to consider what you would do if you ended up testing positive outside the home, Wen said. Where will you stay and how easy will it be to take a test to go home?

Top image: Tourists enjoy a beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on January 7. (Photo by Erika Santelices / AFP via Getty Images)

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