(CNN) — The CDC’s weekly travel health advisory update contains some of the most encouraging news for tourists in months.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not add a single new destination Monday to its highest risk category for travel.
The hopeful respite comes after months and months of disheartening additions to its Tier 4 category, in which destinations are deemed to be at “very high” risk for Covid-19.
The CDC places a destination at risk level 4 when more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents are recorded in the past 28 days.
By the end of February, the number of spots at Level 4 increased to over 140, illustrating Omicron’s wide range and rapid spread. Since that peak, the number of Tier 4 destinations has declined again, and many places are easing or dropping their international travel restrictions.
CDC: avoid Tier 4 destinations
Romantic Venice is still a top destination in Italy, but the country remains at CDC Level 4.
Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images
Still, the overall picture remains a mixed bag.
Nearly 115 destinations remained at Level 4 on March 28. This still represents almost half of the approximately 240 destinations covered by the CDC..
The CDC advises avoiding travel to Tier 4 countries. The CDC’s thresholds for travel health notices are based primarily on the number of Covid-19 cases in a destination.
Favorites for tourists stuck in Tier 4 include Aruba, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Peru and Spain. The UK has been there since July 2021.
Changes at Level 3
Peru, home to bucket list site Machu Picchu, has moved to Tier 3.
PERCY HURTADO/AFP via Getty Images
The Level 3 “high” risk category – which applies to destinations that have recorded between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 population in the past 28 days – saw five additions on Monday. They were:
• Bosnia and Herzegovina
• Saint Pierre and Miquelon
All five were previously at level 4.
Levels 2, 1 and unknown
Destinations with the designation “Level 2: Moderate Covid-19” have recorded 50 to 99 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. The six new Tier 2 entries on March 28 are:
• The Bahamas
• The Philippines
• Saint Kitts and Nevis
All six places were at Level 3 last week.
To be at “Level 1: Covid-19 low”, a destination must have registered fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. Four seats moved to level 1 on Monday:
Chad fell completely from level 4. India, which was ravaged last year during the Delta push, fell from level 3.
Guinea and Namibia are downgraded from level 2.
Angkor Wat is a must-see destination in Cambodia, but the CDC warns that the risk of Covid in the country is unknown.
MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Finally, there are destinations for which the CDC has an “unknown” risk due to lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places where war or unrest is going on. The CDC has no news additions to the category on Monday.
The Azores, Cambodia, Macao, and Tanzania are some of the most visited places currently listed in the unknown category. The CDC advises against travel to these places precisely because the risks are unknown.
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 are entering 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,” Wen said in mid -February.
“You have to interpret level 4 to mean that it is a place with a lot of community transmission of Covid-19. So if you go there, you are more likely to contract the coronavirus,” said said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Some people will decide the risk is too high for them, Wen said. “Other people will say, ‘Because I’m vaccinated and boosted, I’m willing to take that risk.’
“So it really has to be a personal decision that people weigh knowing that right now the CDC is categorizing the different tiers based on community transmission rates, and basically just that,” Wen said. “They don’t take into account individual circumstances.”
More Travel Considerations
There are other factors to weigh in addition to transmission rates, according to Wen.
“Transmission rates are a benchmark,” Wen said. “Another is what precautions are needed and followed where you are going, and then the third is what you plan to do once you get 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. “other. It’s very different. It’s 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.
“Unvaccinated people remain at high risk and really shouldn’t travel at this point,” she said.
People should wear a high-quality mask — N95, KN95 or KF94 — whenever they’re in crowded indoor settings with people whose vaccination status is unknown, she 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?
Top image: An airplane takes off from New York LaGuardia Airport in New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)