CDC moves 3 tropical island excursions to “moderate” risk category for Covid-19

CDC moves 3 tropical island excursions to “moderate” risk category for Covid-19

CDC moves 3 tropical island excursions to “moderate” risk category for Covid-19

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(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday moved three tropical island getaways and a Middle Eastern nation to its “moderate” risk category for Covid-19. There were no new additions to the “high” risk category this week.

The four new locations now at “moderate” risk, or level 2, are:

• Fiji (in the South Pacific)
• Kuwait (Middle East)
• Saint Kitts and Nevis (Caribbean)
• Sint Maarten (Caribbean)

Previously, Dutch Sint Maarten had been listed as “Unknown”, which happens when the CDC does not have enough data to make a risk assessment. The other three places dropped from “high” risk, or level 3.

Just over half of the destinations monitored by the CDC are still listed as Level 3. That includes very popular tourist spots such as Brazil, France, Mexico and Thailand.

The designation applies to places that have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days.

Destinations with the designation “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” reported 50 to 100 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days.

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.

This week, four nations in Africa were placed in Tier 1:

• Cape Verde
• Mauritania
• Morocco
• Namibia

Level 4, previously the highest risk category, is now reserved only for special circumstances, such as extremely high case numbers, the emergence of a new strain of concern or the collapse of healthcare infrastructure. The CDC advises against travel to these destinations. Under the new system, no destinations have been placed at level 4 so far.

A medical expert weighs in on risk levels

The CDC advises travelers to be up-to-date with Covid-19 vaccines before traveling internationally. Being “up to date” means that you have not only received the full first vaccinations, but also boosters for which you are eligible.

We are in “a phase of the pandemic where people must make their own decisions based on their medical circumstances as well as their risk tolerance for contracting Covid-19,” according to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

Vaccination is the most important safety factor for travel, said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“Most people who are up to date on their vaccines are well protected from getting seriously ill,” she said.

Think about what you would do if you end up testing positive away from home, Wen advised.

“Do you have access to treatments such as antiviral pills or monoclonal antibodies? Ask your doctor in advance of your trip if you are eligible, then know where to find these treatments when you travel abroad,” she said.

Wen also recommends packing extra coronavirus tests and taking them with you on your trip.

While travelers to the US no longer need to present a negative Covid-19 test to return home from international destinations, the CDC still recommends testing before boarding flights back to the US and not traveling if you are sick.
“Obviously, if people have symptoms or exposure while traveling, they need to be tested, and if they test positive, to follow CDC guidelines for isolation,” Wen told CNN Travel.
If you are concerned about a travel-specific health situation unrelated to Covid-19, check here.

Top picture: Chairs are laid out for sunbathing in the capital of Philipsburg in Sint Maarten. (Photo: Marica van der Meer/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

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