The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added Canada to its highest COVID-19 travel warning level this week, elevating the country to Level 4 status from its previous Level 3 designation following a big uptick in Canada’s coronavirus cases amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
The CDC also raised the Caribbean island of Curaçao from Level 3 to the highest risk Level 4 status. A number of major tourist destinations remain at Level 4 at the moment, including the U.K., France, Portugal, Mexico, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and South Africa.
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The CDC classifies destinations as Level 4 if 500 or more new COVID-19 cases are recorded per 100,000 residents within a 28-day period. The health agency advises Americans to avoid travel to any Level 4 country due to a high risk of contracting COVID-19; those that must travel should be fully vaccinated beforehand.
The CDC also moved 10 new countries to Level 3 status, including Armenia, Bahrain, Belarus, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was an improvement for Armenia, Belarus, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, which were all previously at Level 4, but a demotion for Bahrain, Cape Verde, Ethiopia and Zambia, which were moved from Level 2, as well as for the United Arab Emirates, which was last at Level 1. Singapore was raised to Level 4 from “unknown” status.
The new updates come as the CDC recently released new vaccine guidance; the agency now recommends that all those who are eligible should receive a booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine five months after their second shot. Last week, the CDC also shortened the recommended isolation period for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic from 10 days to five days, followed by another five-day period of masking around others. Individuals who are isolating are advised to wait to travel until at least 10 days after the start of their symptoms.