While it may have seemed like the darker days of Covid were behind us, the silent threat remains very much real, as several countries battle a new potentially disruptive wave. The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shortened to CDC, is keeping track of the developments, and has now added a further 6 countries to its Level 3 ‘High Risk’ list.
Effectively, the list comprises destinations where the average Covid case count exceeds 100 per 100,000 population, signalling the virus is in active circulation and infection/complication risks are higher. As part of the new Level 3 batch, we have:
- El Salvador
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
The unlucky six are now part of a collective of 121 ‘risky’ nations:
Covid Is Making A Comeback Now That The Cold Is Approaching
After a summer of few Covid updates, other than the odd country removing entry requirements, a new Omicron offshoot called BA.5 is leaving a trail of disaster behind it. Particularly among overly conservative countries, that have grown wary of sharp Covid upticks, restrictions that had been dropped in the lead up to summer are now returning.
In South Korea, tourists are again subject to on-arrival testing and subsequent isolation until a negative result is issued, making the Asian hub the first major destination to respond this fiercely to the new wave. Additionally, the overly cautious Cyprus and Qatar have reinstated mask mandates they had scrapped only a few weeks prior.
Over in North America, the situation isn’t much better, as Canada has not only extended its strict border regime, but resumed random testing at airports. Like virtually everywhere else, cases are again rising in Canada, seriously threatening the tourism industry’s future. After all, the country is known to be super strict when it comes to pandemic management, and new waves could delay its full reopening indefinitely.
The United States has not completely abandoned its Covid protocols either. Despite lifting the much-criticized inbound testing regime for returning Americans, the country continues to require a valid vaccination certificate of foreigners, and viral trends remain markedly important for the CDC’s assessment of what makes a country safe, or unsafe for travel.
Earlier this week, the health body included a number of popular vacation hotspots, including Colombia and Paraguay, on its Level 3 listing. To be honest, we weren’t expecting any other countries to lose their ‘safe’ statuses this soon, but surprisingly, more demotions are due. Should the CDC continue moving at this speed, there won’t be many Level 1 or Level 2 countries left.
6 More Countries Are Downgraded To Level 3 Status
This time, it’s Central America‘s rising stars El Salvador and Honduras, Europe’s incredibly underrated Bosnia and Herzegovina and Poland, the paradise archipelago of Fiji, and the South Asian country of Bangladesh getting the downgrade. In all of these regions, cases have hit an average higher than 100 per 100,000 population, earning them a Level 3 stamp.
When traveling to the aforementioned six nations, Americans are advised to:
- Get vaccinated, even if their country of destination does not require a Covid certificate as proof of entry
- Ensure their vaccination cards are updated with all the required booster doses
- When suffering from low immunity, check with their private clinician whether their upcoming trip should be going ahead, taking into account the volatile scenario
- Wear face masks in all indoor spaces to prevent Covid infection and protect others, including inside planes and public transport
- When unvaccinated, avoid travel to Level 3 destinations due to the higher risk of developing a more serious course of Covid
They are now only one slot below Level 4, or the Special Circumstances list, reserved for nations where new dangerous variants have been identified and/or the epidemiological scenario is dire. As we have reported previously, cases tripled in Europe in the previous six weeks, proving Covid is as unpredictable as it once was, despite containment efforts.
Are CDC Travel Health Warnings Still Useful?
Despite the CDC’s ruling, most of the affected countries have little to no Covid regulations in place. The latter applies to Poland, where pandemic-related curbs ceased applying as soon as March. Although it is posting higher infection numbers compared to earlier weeks, it has not changed its lax approach yet (unlike fellow EU member Cyprus).
Demand is high, too. Judging by the current air traffic and the generalized chaos observed in a majority of airports, that could last up to another year, Covid is no longer a primary concern for travelers. However, as an official health entity, the CDC list should still be taken into consideration. In the very least, they are an indication of potential travel curbs to come.
How, exactly? Well, now that they are classed as ‘High Risk’ destinations and Covid is bound to spread much quicker in the colder fall and winter months, both Germany and Ireland are mulling over re-introducing face masks. In sum, these health warnings are non-binding, but they help us predict which countries might clamp down on tourism.
Other popular destinations in Level 3 include:
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories