CDC moves tourism hotspot out of ‘high’ risk level for Covid-19

By Forrest Brown and Marnie Hunter, CNN

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday reduced the travel risk from Covid-19 for one of the most popular destinations in the Western Hemisphere.

Mexico dropped one level on the CDC’s scale from “high” risk to “moderate” risk on May 2, along with four other places around the world.

Tourism is an important segment of the country’s economy, and Mexico has enforced some of the world’s loosest border restrictions throughout the pandemic. There are no vaccination or test requirements to visit.

There wasn’t much movement overall on the CDC’s advisory list on Monday, although a major center of tourism in the Middle East, Egypt, was placed in the ‘unknown’ risk category. “. The CDC puts a destination there when it hasn’t received enough data in the past seven days to make an assessment.

The CDC recently overhauled its scoring system.

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

Level 4 is now reserved only for special circumstances. Under the new system, no destinations have been placed at Tier 4 so far.

Level 3

Under the CDC’s new system, the Level 3 “high” risk category applies to destinations that have recorded more than 100 cases per 100,000 population in the past 28 days.

Mexico was removed from this category and there were no new additions to Tier 3 on May 2. However, much of Europe is still hosted there, with the summer travel season drawing ever closer.

On May 2, some popular European nations still at Tier 3 included:

• France
• Germany
• Greece
• Ireland
• Italy
• The Netherlands
• Portugal
• Spain
• UK

It’s not just European favorites that end up in Tier 3. Other popular high-risk travel locations around the world include:

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

There are over 110 Tier 3 destinations this week. Level 3 sites represent nearly half of the approximately 235 sites monitored by the CDC.

The CDC advises you to be up-to-date with your Covid-19 vaccines before traveling to a Tier 3 destination. “Up-to-date” includes not only complete initial vaccinations, but also any boosters for which you are eligible.

The CDC does not include the United States in its advisory list, but on its color-coded world map, the CDC had it at level 3 on Monday.

Level 2

Destinations with the designation “Level 2: Moderate Covid-19” have reported 50 to 100 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population in the past 28 days. Five destinations were moved to this level on Monday. They are:

• Antigua and Barbuda
• Belize
• Mexico
• Taiwan
• Iran

The move was not good news for Taiwan, which has been one of the bright spots for much of the pandemic. It was level 1.

One of the last to keep its borders closed to tourism, the island has eased some types of travel restrictions over the past two months. However, leisure travel is still off the table here at the moment and in several other destinations in Asia.

This decision was good news for the other four places on this list, which were at Tier 3.

You can view the CDC’s risk levels for any global destination on its travel recommendations page.

In its broader travel guidelines, the CDC recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully immunized.

If you are concerned about a health situation unrelated to Covid-19, check here.

Level 1

To be at “Level 1: Covid-19 low”, a destination must have 49 new cases or less per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. Only two destinations were added on May 2:

• Botswana
• Indonesia

Botswana, an emerging favorite for people on safari, was unheard of. Indonesia was previously at Tier 2.

This level is dominated by destinations in Africa, including Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal. Tier 1 had about 55 total entries this week.


Finally, there are destinations for which the CDC has an “unknown” risk due to a lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places where war or unrest is going on. The three additions to this category on Monday are:

• Egypt
• Guinea
• Paraguay

All three were at level 3.

The CDC advises against travel to these places precisely because the risks are unknown. The Azores, Cambodia and Nicaragua also attract their fair share of visitors in this category.

Medical expert weighs in on risk levels

Transmission rates are “a benchmark” for travelers’ personal risk calculations, according to CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

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

There are other factors to weigh in addition to transmission rates, according to Wen.

“Another is the precautions needed and followed where you are going, and then the third is what you plan to do once there.

“Are you planning on visiting a lot of attractions and going to indoor bars? It’s very different from going somewhere where you plan to lay on the beach all day and not interact with anyone outside. It’s very different. They’re very different levels of risk.

Vaccination is the most important 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 think about what you would do if you became positive outside of your home. Where will you be staying and how easy will it be to take a test to return home?

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Top image: A beach in Tulum, Mexico, photographed in October 2021. (Photo by Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images)

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