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CDC: South Africa and 3 other “high” risk locations for Covid-19

(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed a popular African travel destination in the “high” Covid-19 risk category for travelers.

South Africa — known for its stunning views, wildlife, wineries and culture — is now at Level 3. Overall, the CDC upgraded four destinations to the “high” risk column on Monday:

Antigua and Barbuda
• Lesotho
• South Africa
• Taiwan

The CDC recently revised their rating system to assess the risk of Covid-19 for travellers.

The risk category level 3 “high” is now the top level in terms of risk level. Level 2 is considered “moderate” risk and Level 1 is considered “low” risk.

Level 4, previously the highest risk category, is now reserved only for special circumstances such as: B. extremely high case numbers, the emergence of a new variant of concern or the collapse of the health infrastructure. No targets have been placed at level 4 under the new system.

Lesotho, a mountainous landlocked country in South Africa, rose from Level 1 on Monday. All other places had been on level 2.

Overall, the deliberations of the past four weeks have seen little by way of the dramatic status shifts that characterized this past winter and early spring during the rise of the original Omicron variant.

level 3

The Paris skyline always inspires, but France stays in the CDC's "high" risk category.

The Paris skyline always inspires, but France remains in the CDC’s “high” risk category.

Ekaterina Belova/Adobe Stock

In the CDC’s new system, the “Level 3: Covid-19 High” category applies to countries that have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 people in the last 28 days.

Much of Europe has stubbornly stuck there as summer travel season draws nearer. As of May 16, the following popular European destinations were among those remaining at Tier 3:

• France
• Germany
• Greece
• Ireland
• Italy
• The Netherlands
• Portugal
• Spain
• Great Britain

It’s not just European favorites who find themselves at Tier 3. Several notable destinations around the world are among those in the high-risk category, including the following:

• Brazil
• Canada
• Costa Rica
• Malaysia
• South Korea
• Thailand

There were approximately 110 targets at Tier 3 on May 16th, a slight increase from May 9th. Level 3 sites now make up almost half of the approximately 235 sites monitored by the CDC.

The CDC advises keeping up to date with your Covid-19 vaccines before traveling to a Tier 3 destination. Being up-to-date means that you have not only received the full initial vaccinations, but also all the booster vaccinations that you are entitled to.

level 2

Happy Bay is located in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla.  The Caribbean island is now on "moderate" CDC Covid-19 risk level.

Happy Bay is located in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla. The Caribbean island is now at the “moderate” Covid-19 risk level, according to the CDC.

Nikolay/Adobe Stock

Destinations labeled “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” reported 50 to 100 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 28 days. Only two places were moved to this level on Monday:

• Anguilla
• Lebanon

That was good news for the Caribbean island and Middle East getaway, which was at Level 3. Less than 20 places were listed on Level 2 on Monday.

In its broader travel advice, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.
If you are concerned about a travel specific health situation not related to Covid-19, check here.

level 1

The treasury can be seen through a cave opening in Petra, Jordan.  The Arab nation is now at Level 1 of the CDC.

The treasury can be seen through a cave opening in Petra, Jordan. The Arab nation is now at Level 1 of the CDC.

Burt Johnson/Adobe Stock

To be in Level 1: Covid-19 Low, a destination must have had 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 population in the last 28 days. On May 16, four destinations were added to the category:

• Jordan
• Mongolia
• Sri Lanka
• Zimbabwe

All four nations were at level 2 last week.

At this level, destinations in Africa dominate, including Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda. Level 1 had just over 50 entries as of Monday.


Finally, there are targets that the CDC has classified as “unknown” risky due to a lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places with ongoing wars or civil unrest. There was only one new entry in this category on Monday: French Polynesiawhich was previously at level 3.

The CDC advises against traveling to these locations precisely because the risks are unknown. Others in this category are the Azores, Cambodia, Macau and Tanzania.

A medical expert weighs the risk levels

According to CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, the transmission rates are only “a guide” for travelers’ personal risk calculations.

We have entered “a phase of the pandemic where people must make their own decisions based on their medical circumstances as well as their risk tolerance when it comes to contracting Covid-19,” said Wen, the emergency room physician and professor is in health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

According to Wen, there are other factors to consider in addition to transfer rates.

“Another is what precautions are needed and followed at the place you are going and the third question is what you want to do once you are there.

“Planning to visit many attractions and go to indoor bars? This is very different than going somewhere where you lie on the beach all day and don’t want to interact with anyone. This is very different. Those are very different levels of risk.”

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

And it’s also important to consider what you would do if you tested positive while away from home. Where will you stay and how easy will it be to get a test to return home?

Picture above: South Africa is known for breathtaking landscapes such as the Blyde River Canyon. (Lkpro/Adobe Stock)

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