CDC adds 3 destinations to “high” risk list, including Mexico

(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) included three new destinations on Monday in its category of “high” risk of contagion of covid-19, among which is an American country.

In April, the CDC revised its classification system to assess the risk of COVID-19 transmission to travelers.

The Tier 3 “High” risk category is now the highest tier in terms of risk level. Level 2 is considered “moderate” risk. Level 1 is “low” risk.

Level 4, previously the highest risk category, is now reserved for only special circumstances, such as an extremely high case count, the emergence of a new variant of concern, or the collapse of the health infrastructure. With the new system, so far no destinations have been placed at level 4.

The “Tier 3: High Covid-19” category now applies to countries that have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the last 28 days.

The three destinations joining Tier 3 this week are:

  • United Arab Emirates
  • Mexico
  • New Caledonia

Mexico, a favorite destination for American tourists, and the United Arab Emirates, the hotspot in the Middle East, were at level 2 last week.

Holbox Island, Quintana Roo, Mexico

New Caledonia, famous among diving enthusiasts, was previously in the unknown category, which means that the CDC did not have enough data for this Pacific Ocean destination to assign it a category.

As of June 13, there were nearly 115 Level 3 destinations. Level 3 locations account for nearly half of the approximately 235 locations monitored by the CDC.

Level 3

cdc travel covid

A classic view of the cityscape of Florence, Italy. The southern European country remains at level 3. Credit: rh2010/Adobe Stock

Mexico and the United Arab Emirates are not the only favorite destinations in the “high” risk category. Many other popular tourist destinations are also at level 3.

Much of Europe has stubbornly remained at that level for months as the summer travel season kicked off. As of June 13, the following popular European destinations were at Tier 3:

  • Germany
  • Spain
  • France
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • United Kingdom

It’s not just European favorites that are in Tier 3. Many prominent travel destinations around the world are in the “high” risk category, including:

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

The CDC advises to be up to date with the vaccination schedule against covid-19 before traveling to a level 3 destination. “up to date” it means that you have received not only the initial schedule of vaccines, but also any boosters for which you are eligible.

Level 2

cdc destinations

The Oak Ridge area on the island of Roatan, Honduras, at sunrise. Honduras dropped to level 2 this week. Credit: Wollwerth Imagery/Adobe Stock

Destinations with the “Level 2: Moderate COVID-19” designation reported 50 to 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. Three places moved to this level on Monday:

  • Cape Verde
  • Honduras
  • Saba (Dutch island in the Caribbean)

The change was welcome news for Honduras and the sleepy Caribbean island of Saba, which had been in Tier 3. Cape Verde, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, had been in Tier 1.

On June 13, there were only 16 destinations on level 2.

You can check the CDC risk levels for any worldwide destination on the travel recommendations from the agency.
In its larger travel guidethe CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until fully vaccinated.

If you are worried about a specific health situation of the trip not related to covid-19, consult here.

Level 1

Cuba covid cdc

Classic cars are part of the Old Havana scene. Cuba has moved to Level 1, considered “low” risk for covid. Credit: diegograndi/Adobe Stock

To be in “Tier 1: Low COVID-19,” a destination must have had 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. Only two destinations were added to the category on June 13:

Both nations had been at Tier 2.


Finally, there are the destinations that the CDC has considered “unknown” risk due to lack of information. These are usually, but not always, small, remote places or places with ongoing warfare or unrest. This week two places have been added to this category:

They had both been at level 3 last week.

The CDC advises against traveling to these places precisely because the risks are unknown. Other destinations in this category are Cambodia, the Canary Islands, Macao and Tanzania.

A medical expert weighs in on risk levels

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

“We are entering a phase of the pandemic where people have to make their own decisions based on their medical circumstances, as well as their tolerance for the risk of 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.

Transmission rates are important to consider when making travel decisions, but there are other factors as well. “Transmission rates are a guide,” Wen said. “Another is what precautions are required and followed in the place you’re going and then the third is what do you plan to do once you’re there. Do you plan to visit many attractions and go to closed bars? That’s very different from going to a place where you plan to be on the beach all day and not interact with anyone else. Those are very different levels of risk.”

Before you travel, it’s also important to consider what you would do if you end up testing positive away from home, Wen said. Where will you be staying and how easy will it be to get tested to return home?

Although US-bound travelers no longer have to present a negative COVID-19 test result to return home, the CDC still advises testing before boarding flights returning to the United States. And don’t travel if you’re sick.

“Of course, if people have symptoms or are exposed while traveling, they should get tested and, if positive, follow CDC isolation guidelines,” Wen told CNN Travel on Friday.

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