On Jan. 31, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) raised twelve countries to the agency’s highest COVID-19 risk category, Level 4. The CDC describes this level as “very high risk.”
Among the affected countries, Mexico is the most popular tourist destination for Americans. Other nations now at Level 4 are as follows:
- French Guiana
- The Philippines
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The CDC advises U.S. residents to avoid visiting Level 4 locations. There are currently over 120 Level 4 countries and territories.
The increasing amount of CDC travel advisories is likely related to the omicron variant. It’s significantly more contagious than earlier forms of COVID-19, making it partially responsible for the drastic increase in cases worldwide.
The CDC categorizes a country as Level 4 when it reports 500 or more emergent cases per 100,000 residents over the past 28 days. The U.S. itself currently qualifies as Level 4, which makes some observers question whether the CDC’s travel advisories are helpful.
For individuals who must travel to foreign Level 4 areas, the CDC recommends getting fully vaccinated before departure.
Additionally, the agency has stated that fully vaccinated individuals can still catch COVID-19. Omicron has several differences in its protein spikes, allowing it to sometimes evade vaccines.
Fortunately, omicron seems to cause milder symptoms than earlier variants. Hospitalizations and death rates in many nations have stayed relatively low despite its rapid spread.