CDC moves 3 tropical island getaways to “moderate” risk category for Covid-19

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(CNN) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday moved three tropical island getaways and one Middle Eastern nation into the “moderate” risk category for Covid-19. There were no new additions to the “high risk” category this week.

The four new locations now at “moderate” or level 2 risk are:

• Fiji (South Pacific)
• Kuwait (Middle East)
• Saint Kitts and Nevis (Caribbean)
• San Martin (Caribbean)

Previously, Dutch Sint Maarten was listed as “Unknown,” which occurs when the CDC does not have enough data to perform a risk assessment. The other three positions were downgraded from “high” or level 3 risk.

More than half of the destinations monitored by the CDC are still listed as Tier 3. These include very popular tourist destinations such as Brazil, France, Mexico and Thailand.

The designation applies to places that have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days.

Destinations designated as “Level 2: Moderate Covid-19” have reported between 50 and 100 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days.

To be listed as “Level 1: Low Covid-19”, a destination must have 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 population in the last 28 days.

This week, four African nations were ranked No. 1:

• Cape Verde
• Mauritania
• Morocco
• Namibia

Level 4, the first highest risk category, is now reserved only for special situations, such as very high numbers of cases, the emergence of a new variant of concern or the collapse of health infrastructure. The CDC advises against travel to these destinations. Under the new system, no finish line has been placed in level 4 so far.

A medical expert measures the risk levels

The CDC advises travelers to be up-to-date on their Covid-19 vaccinations before traveling internationally. Being “up to date” means you’ve had not only the full initial vaccination, but any boosters you’re eligible for.

“We’re at a stage in the pandemic where people have to make their own decisions about contracting Covid-19 based on their medical conditions and risk tolerance,” according to CNN medical analyst Leana Wen.

Vaccination is the most significant safety factor for travel, said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.

“Most people who are up-to-date on vaccines are very well protected from getting seriously ill,” he said.

Consider what you would do if you tested positive outside the home, Wen advised.

“Do you have access to treatments like antiviral pills or monoclonal antibodies? Ask your doctor if you are eligible before your trip, and find out where to find these treatments when you travel abroad,” she said.

Wen recommends adding coronavirus tests and bringing them on your trip.

While U.S.-bound travelers do not need to present a negative Covid-19 test to return home from international destinations, the CDC still recommends testing before boarding flights back to the States and not traveling if you are sick.
“Of course, if people have symptoms or exposure while traveling, they should get tested, and if it’s positive, follow the CDC’s isolation guidelines,” Wen told CNN Travel.
If you are concerned about a specific travel health condition unrelated to Covid-19, check here.

Image above: Sun loungers are lined up in Philipsburg, the capital of Sint Maarten. (Photo: Marica van der Meer/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)