(CNN) – The CDC’s weekly travel health recommendations has given tourists some of the most encouraging news in recent months.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not add a single new destination to the highest-risk category on Monday.
This hopeful respite comes after months and months of dissuasive addition to the Level 4 category, where destinations are considered a “very high” risk for Covid-19.
The CDC places the destination at risk level 4, with more than 500 cases per 100,000 population registered in the last 28 days.
By the end of February, the number of spots at level 4 had grown to more than 140, illustrating the huge scale and rapid spread of Omicron. From this peak, the number of level 4 destinations is falling again and many places are releasing or lifting their international travel restrictions.
CDC: Avoid level 4 destinations
Romantic Venice is still the top destination in Italy, but the country remains at the 4th level of the CDC.
Marco Bertorello / AFP / Getty Images
Nevertheless, the wide picture remains mixed.
Nearly 115 destinations remained at level 4 on March 28. This is still almost half of the almost 240 cities covered by the CDC..
The CDC recommends avoiding travel to Level 4 countries. The CDC’s limits for travel health warnings are based primarily on the number of Covid-19 cases in the destination.
Level 4 tourist attractions include Aruba, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Peru and Spain. The United Kingdom has been there since July 2021.
Level 3 changes
Peru, home of Machu Picchu, has moved to level 3.
PERCY HURTADO / AFP via Getty Images
The “high” level 3 risk category – which covers destinations that had 100 to 500 cases per 100 000 inhabitants in the last 28 days – saw five new additions on Monday. They were:
• Bosnia and Herzegovina
• Saint Pierre and Miquelon
All five were previously at level 4.
Levels 2, 1 and unknown
“Level 2: Moderate Covid-19” destinations have recorded 50 to 99 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population in the last 28 days. The six new items to Level 2 on March 28 are:
• Saint Kitts and Nevis
All six places were at level 3 last week.
To reach level 1: COVID-19 Low, the destination must have less than 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. Four places moved to level 1 on Monday:
Chad dropped completely from level 4. India, which was devastated last year during the Delta waves, dropped from level 3.
Guinea and Namibia have dropped out of level 2.
Angkor Wat is a must-see destination in Cambodia, but the CDC warns that the risk of COVID in the country is unknown.
MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP / AFP / Getty Images
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 with ongoing wars or riots. The CDC has done nothing new additions to the category on Monday.
The Azores, Cambodia, Macao and Tanzania are among the most visited sites currently listed in an unknown category. The CDC does not recommend traveling to these places precisely because the risks are unknown.
The medical expert considers the levels of risk
According to CNN medical analyst Dr. Leany Wen is a “one-stop shop” for passenger personal risk calculations.
“We are entering a pandemic phase where people have to make their own decisions based on their health circumstances as well as their risk tolerance for the Covid-19 infection,” Wen said in mid-February.
“Level 4 should be interpreted as saying that this is a place with a lot of Covid-19 community broadcasts. So if you go, there’s a better chance you could get a coronavirus infection, “said Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the Milken Institute at George Washington University.
Some people decide that the risk is too high for them, Wen said. “Other people will say: Because I am vaccinated and strengthened, I am willing to take this risk.
“So this really has to be a personal decision that people consider when they understand that right now the CDC classifies different levels based on the transmission rate in the community and basically just that,” Wen said. “They don’t take individual circumstances into account.”
More thoughts on travel
According to Wen, in addition to transmission speeds, other factors need to be considered.
“Baud rates are one point of reference,” Wen said. “The next is what precautions are required and followed where you go, and the third is what you plan to do when you’re there.
“Do you plan to visit a lot of attractions and go to indoor bars? It’s very different from going somewhere where you plan to lie on the beach all day and not interact with anyone else. It’s very different. These are very different levels of risk.”
Vaccination is the most important safety factor when traveling, because unvaccinated passengers are more likely to get sick and transfer Covid-19 to others, Wen said.
“People who are not vaccinated continue to be at high risk and really should not travel at this point,” she said.
People should wear a high-quality mask – N95, KN95 or KF94 – whenever they are in a crowded indoor environment with people with unknown vaccinations, she said.
And it’s also important to consider what you would do if you ended up with a positive test away from home. Where will you stay and how easy will it be to get a homecoming test?
Top image: The plane takes off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport in New York. (Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images)