CDC reduces Covid-19 travel risks for Sweden and Romania

Editor’s Note – Subscribe to Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get news on opening and closing destinations, inspiration for future adventures, as well as the latest flight, food and drink news, accommodations and other travel developments.

(CNN) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday updated its Covid-19 travel advisory page. Only two new places, both in Africa, have joined the crowded “high risk” category.

But perhaps most important this week is the news that two destinations in stubbornly elevated Europe have been downgraded to ‘moderate’ risk.

Norse cultural strengths in Sweden and the densely forested and historic Romania of Eastern Europe provide two bright spots on a continent once mired in the “high” risk category.

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

Level 4, previously the highest risk category, is now reserved only for special circumstances, such as an extremely high case number, the emergence of a new worrying variable or a collapse in healthcare infrastructure. Under the new system, no destination has been placed at level 4 yet.

A herd of elephants is seen in eastern Botswana. The South African country is now at level 3.

Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

The ‘Level 3: Covid-19 High’ category now applies to places with more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the last 28 days. The two destinations that will join Level 3 this week are:

• Botswana
• green head

Botswana, a favorite for landlocked safaris, has moved all the way from Level 1 while Cape Verde, off the west coast of Africa in the North Atlantic, has moved up from Level 2.

There were over 110 Level 3 destinations on June 21. Level 3 sites represent nearly half of the approximately 235 places monitored by the CDC.

More about level 3

The Eiffel Tower is blessed with the romantic twilight of Paris.  France remains at level 3 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Eiffel Tower is blessed with the romantic twilight of Paris. France remains at level 3 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Martin’s office/AFP via Getty Images

Despite the good news from Sweden and Romania, much of Europe has been sitting there for months as the summer travel season begins. As of June 21, the following popular European destinations were among those that remained in Tier 3:

• France
• Germany
• Greece
• Ireland
• Italia
• Holland
• Norway
• Spain
• United kingdom

But it’s not just European favorites that find themselves in Tier 3. Several notable travel destinations around the world are among those in the “high” risk category, including the following:

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

The CDC advises that you be up to date on your Covid-19 vaccinations before traveling to a Tier 3 destination. Being “up-to-date” means that you not only get your full initial vaccinations but also any boosters for which you are eligible.

Level 2

Bertan is one of the most important Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, Romania.  The Eastern European country is now at Level 2.

Bertan is one of the most important Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, Romania. The Eastern European country is now at Level 2.

Andrea Ricordi / Moment RF / Getty Images

Destinations rated “Level 2: Moderate Covid-19” have reported 50 to 100 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. Six positions in total moved up to that level on Tuesday:

• Bolivia
• Ethiopia
• Kenya
• Morocco
• Romania
• Sweden

Unlike the two European countries, the move to Tier 2 was actually not good news for Bolivia, Kenya and Morocco, which were at Tier 1. (Ethiopia did not appear in last week’s report).

In its broader travel advisory, the CDC has recommended that you avoid international travel until you’ve been fully vaccinated.

Level 1

To be at ‘Level 1: Covid-19 Low’, a destination must have had 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. Six destinations spread across the world were added to the category on June 21:

• Savior
• Fiji
• Guinea
• Moldova
• Saint Eustatius
• Tanzania

The move was particularly good news for the small Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius, which was at level 3.

Last week, El Salvador, Fiji and Moldova were in Tier 2 while Africa’s Guinea and Tanzania were “unknown”.

Unknown

Finally, there are destinations that the CDC has deemed to have “unknown” risks due to a lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places with constant war or unrest. Four places have been added this week to this category:

• Bhutan
• Comoros
• Democratic Republic of the Congo
• Ghana

The CDC advises against travel to these places specifically because the risks are unknown. Other destinations in this category include Cambodia, the Canary Islands, and Macau.

Medical expert weighs in risk levels

Commuting rates are just “one guide” to travelers’ personal risk calculations, according to CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

We have moved to “a stage in the pandemic where people need to make their own decisions based on their medical conditions as well as their own risk tolerance when it comes to contracting Covid-19,” said Wayne, an emergency physician and university professor. Health Policy and Management at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Wen said there are other factors that should be weighed in addition to transmission rates.

“Another is what precautions are required and taken where you are going, and the third is what you plan to do once you get there,” she said.

“Do you plan to visit a lot of attractions and go to indoor bars? This is very different from going somewhere where you plan to lie on the beach all day and not interact with anyone else. This is completely different. These are very different levels of risk.”

Wen said vaccination is the most important safety factor for travel, as unvaccinated travelers are more likely to get sick and pass Covid-19 to others.

It’s also important to think about what you’ll do if you end up testing positive away from home.

“Of course, if people develop symptoms or are exposed while traveling, they should get tested, and if they test positive, to follow the CDC’s isolation guidelines,” Wayne told CNN Travel recently.
If you are concerned about a travel health condition not related to Covid-19, check here.

Top image: Twilights over Riddarholmen Church in Stockholm, Sweden. (Knopp/Moment RF/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: