By Marnie Hunter and Forrest Brown, CNN
The US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention designated a half dozen new locations “very excessive” danger for journey on Monday, together with South Korea and French Polynesia.
The six new additions to the “very excessive” danger Stage 4 class are a far-flung bunch: Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea; Belarus, situated in a presently very tense spot bordering Russia and Ukraine; Comoros, an archipelago off Africa’s east coast; French Polynesia within the South Pacific; Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a French archipelago south of Canada’s Newfoundland; and South Korea.
Stage 4, the CDC’s highest danger degree, has now swelled to nearly 140 locations, illustrating the fast surge of the Omicron variant all over the world. In early January, there have been round 80 locations listed there.
Stage 4 now has extra locations than all the opposite CDC classes mixed and accounts for greater than half of all of the locations listed by the CDC.
Locations added to Stage 4 on February 14:
• French Polynesia
• Saint Pierre and Miquelon
• South Korea
Final week, all six locations have been at Stage 3, or “excessive” danger for Covid-19.
The CDC advises vacationers to keep away from visiting to Stage 4 nations. CDC thresholds for journey well being notices are based mostly totally on the variety of Covid-19 circumstances in a vacation spot.
The CDC locations a vacation spot at Stage 4 when greater than 500 circumstances per 100,000 residents are registered previously 28 days.
A medical knowledgeable weighs in on danger ranges
Transmission charges are “one guidepost” for vacationers’ private danger calculations, in keeping with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
“We’re coming into a section within the pandemic the place individuals have to make their very own selections based mostly on their medical circumstances in addition to their danger tolerance with regards to contracting Covid-19,” Wen stated on Monday.
“You must interpret Stage 4 to imply this can be a place with a whole lot of neighborhood transmission of Covid-19. So for those who go, there’s a greater probability that you can contract the coronavirus,” stated Wen, who’s an emergency doctor and professor of well being coverage and administration on the George Washington College Milken Institute Faculty of Public Well being.
Some individuals will determine the danger is just too excessive for them, Wen stated. “Different individuals will say, ‘As a result of I’m vaccinated and boosted, I’m prepared to tackle that danger.’
“So this actually must be a private determination that folks weigh understanding that proper now the CDC is classifying the totally different ranges based mostly on neighborhood transmission charges, and mainly solely that,” Wen stated. “They’re not taking into consideration particular person circumstances.”
Different vital locations at Stage 4
The CDC doesn’t embody america in its record of advisories, however it was color-coded at Stage 4 on February 14 on the company’s map of journey danger ranges.
Final week, Japan was among the many large vacationer locations added to Stage 4.
Different vacationer favorites parked on Stage 4 even longer embody Mexico, Canada, France, Peru, Singapore and Spain. The UK has been there since July 2021.
You’ll be able to view the CDC’s danger ranges for any international vacation spot on its journey suggestions web page.
In its broader journey steerage, the CDC has really helpful avoiding all worldwide journey till you’re absolutely vaccinated.
Modifications at Stage 3
The Stage 3 “excessive” danger class — which applies to locations which have had between 100 and 500 circumstances per 100,000 residents previously 28 days — noticed 4 additions on Monday. They have been:
• El Salvador
Eswatini and Mauritius dropped down one rung from Stage 4. El Salvador’s danger degree elevated from its earlier place at Stage 2, and Indonesia jumped up two danger ranges from Stage 1.
Ranges 2, 1 and unknown
Locations carrying the “Stage 2: Covid-19 Reasonable” designation have seen 50 to 99 Covid-19 circumstances per 100,000 residents previously 28 days. On Monday, the CDC up to date its steerage on Pakistan, which was moved to Stage 2 final week. There have been no additional adjustments to Stage 2.
Presently, there are simply 4 locations at Stage 2, together with New Zealand, which has a few of the world’s tightest journey restrictions.
To be in “Stage 1: Covid-19 Low,” a vacation spot will need to have fewer than 50 new circumstances per 100,000 residents over the previous 28 days.
No locations have been moved to Stage 1 on Monday. There are presently solely six locations within the class. That features China, which is internet hosting the Winter Olympic Video games.
Lastly, there are locations for which the CDC has an “unknown” danger due to a lack of know-how. Often, however not all the time, these are small, distant locations or locations with ongoing warfare or unrest. There have been no additions this week.
Tanzania, Cambodia and the Canary Islands are among the many more-visited areas presently listed within the unknown class. The CDC advises in opposition to journey to those locations exactly as a result of the dangers are unknown.
The CDC contains cruise ships on its locations record. Cruise journey has been at Stage 4 since December 30. The CDC steerage is to keep away from cruise journey at the moment.
“It’s particularly essential that vacationers who’re at an elevated danger of extreme sickness from Covid-19 keep away from journey on cruise ships, together with river cruises,” the CDC says in its journey discover.
On February 9, the CDC up to date its journey well being discover for cruise journey including standards for the way it determines the danger degree for cruises. Cruise journey remained at Stage 4 within the February 9 replace.
For cruise journey, the CDC’s main standards in evaluating the danger degree is the variety of new Covid-19 circumstances amongst crew and the case trajectory amongst crew over the previous 14 days.
Stage 4 means greater than 2,000 circumstances detected amongst crew on cruise ships over the previous 14 days. Stage 3 is 1,000 to 2,000 information circumstances. Stage 2 is 500-999 new circumstances and Stage 1 is fewer than 500 new crew circumstances.
In the meantime, the CDC’s Covid-19 danger mitigation steerage has develop into elective for a lot of cruise ships.
The CDC’s prolonged conditional crusing order expired In January, and the company has transitioned to a voluntary program for foreign-flagged cruise ships working in US waters.
Extra concerns for journey
Transmission charges are essential to contemplate when making journey selections, however there are different components to weigh as effectively, in keeping with Dr. Wen.
“The transmission charges are one guidepost,” Wen stated. “One other is what precautions are required and adopted within the place that you just’re going after which the third is what are you planning on doing when you’re there.
“Are you planning to go to a whole lot of points of interest and go to indoor bars? That’s very totally different from you’re going someplace the place you’re planning to lie on the seaside all day and never work together with anybody else. That’s very totally different. These are very totally different ranges of danger.”
Vaccination is essentially the most vital security issue for journey since unvaccinated vacationers usually tend to develop into in poor health and transmit Covid-19 to others, Wen stated.
“People who find themselves unvaccinated stay at excessive danger and actually shouldn’t be touring at this level,” she stated.
Folks needs to be carrying a high-quality masks — N95, KN95 or KF94 — anytime they’re in crowded indoor settings with individuals of unknown vaccination standing, she stated.
And it’s additionally essential to contemplate what you’d do if you find yourself testing constructive away from dwelling. The place will you keep and the way simple will it’s to get a check to return dwelling?
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Prime picture: Luxurious overwater villas on the Tahitian island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia. (Adobe Inventory photograph)