(CNN) — TThe US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added two destinations to its “high” Covid-19 risk category – including a Caribbean nation popular for its beaches.
O Dominican Republic and Kuwait, a Middle Eastern country known for its cultural offerings, both are now listed as “Level 3: Covid-19 High”.
Level 3, or “high”, is now the highest notch in terms of risk level and applies to locations that have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 population 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 counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or collapse of healthcare infrastructure. Under the new system, no destinations have been placed at Level 4 so far.
In a weekly update with little overall movement, Monday’s move to tier 3 is a big leap for Kuwait, which was tier 1. The Dominican Republic has moved up from tier 2.
There were nearly 115 destinations on Level 3 as of June 27. Level 3 sites account for nearly half of the approximately 235 sites monitored by the CDC.
More about Level 3
Much of Europe has been stubbornly housed on Level 3 for months now, with the summer travel season in full swing. As of June 27, the following popular European destinations were among the remaining at Tier 3:
• The Netherlands
Tourist ships offer magnificent views of Istanbul. Turkey is at CDC level 3.
Nikolay N. Antonov/Adobe Stock
These aren’t the only high-profile locations found at Level 3. Several other destinations around the world are among those in the “high” risk category, including the following:
• Costa Rica
• South Korea
Late afternoon view of Parque dos Jornalistas in Bogotá, Colombia. The South American nation is now on Level 2.
Danaan Andrew-Pacleb/Adobe Stock
Destinations with the designation “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” have reported 50 to 100 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 residents in the last 28 days. The CDC moved four places to that tier on Monday:
• Saudi Arabia
The move was not good news for Colombia, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which were at Level 1.
There are a total of 21 spots in the “moderate” risk category this week.
The Taj Mahal is India’s most iconic structure. India is currently at Tier 1.
Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images
To be listed as “Tier 1: Covid-19 Low”, a destination must have 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 population in the last 28 days. No new destinations were added to the category on June 27th.
Some of the most popular places in the “low” risk category this week include Indonesia, India and the Philippines.
Finally, there are the destinations that the CDC considered of “unknown” risk due to lack of information. Often, but not always, these are small, remote places or places with ongoing war or unrest.
This week, rarely visited djibouti in the Horn of Africa has been added to this category.
The CDC advises against traveling to these places precisely because the risks are unknown. Other destinations in this category that usually attract more tourist attention include French Polynesia, Macau and the Maldives.
A medical specialist assesses risk levels
Transmission rates are just “a reference point” for travellers’ 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 Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.
There are other factors to weigh in addition to transmission rates, according to Wen.
“Another is what precautions are necessary and followed in the place where you’re going, and a third is what you plan to do when you’re there,” she said.
“Are you planning on visiting a lot of attractions and going to closed bars? That’s very different from you going somewhere where you plan on being on the beach all day and not interacting with anyone else. That’s very different. Very different levels of risk. “
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.
And it’s also important to consider what you would do if you ended up testing positive outside your home.
Top image: Tropical beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (Valentin Valkov/Adobe Stock)