(CNN) — In its first update of travel advisories for 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added just one new destination — a popular Caribbean winter getaway — to its highest-risk category.
The CDC advises travelers to avoid Aruba, a Dutch island just off the coast of South America, as it now resides at Level 4 with a “very high level” of Covid-19 risk.
The CDC places a destination at Level 4 when more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents are registered in the past 28 days.
This is a slowdown from the pace of additions in the past two weeks. One week ago, Sweden and two other European nations were added to Level 4. And two weeks ago, Spain and seven other destinations around the world were placed at Level 4.
Europe’s continuing troubles
Europe’s Covid-19 travel situation saw just a little improvement this week. The CDC moved only two destinations on that continent — neither heavy-hitters — to a lower level (see Level 3 below).
Some of its biggest travel names remain firmly lodged at the CDC’s Level 4 for now:
• United Kingdom
In fact, the United Kingdom has been at Level 4 since July 19.
However, Europe isn’t the only continent with popular tourist destinations on Level 4. Among the other places also considered at “very high” risk for travel are:
• South Africa
More than 80 destinations were rated Level 4 as of January 4. You can view the CDC’s risk levels for global destinations on its travel recommendations page.
On December 30, the CDC increased the risk for cruise ship travel to its highest level and said it should be avoided, regardless of vaccination status.
Since the announcement, one of the largest cruise ships operating in the Mediterranean has become the latest to be hit by a Covid outbreak. MSC Cruises confirmed 45 Covid-positive passengers disembarked from its MSC Grandiosa vessel in the Italian port of Genoa Monday — fewer than 1% of those on board.
Level 3 additions
The Level 3 category — which applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days — saw eight new additions on Tuesday from a variety of regions:
• The Bahamas
• Sint Maarten
The Level 3 designation was actually good news for Azerbaijan, Moldova, Mongolia and Romania, which had previously been at Level 4. In fact, Mongolia had been there since May 19, according to the CDC.
It was a move in the wrong direction for the Bahamas and Sint Maarten, which had been at Level 2, and Kenya, which had been at an even lower (and safer) Level 1.
Last week, the isolated South American nation of Suriname had been listed as “Unknown,” meaning the CDC didn’t have enough data to make a designation.
Destinations carrying the “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” designation have seen 50 to 99 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. That level saw four new additions Tuesday, three of them in Africa:
• Costa Rica
Costa Rica, a Central American favorite loved for its natural beauty and wildlife, moved down from Level 3.
The move was not good for Nigeria and Zambia, which had been at Level 1.
Madagascar, the large island nation off Africa’s eastern coast in the Indian Ocean, had previously been ranked “Unknown.”
In the category of “Level 1: Covid-19 Low” destinations, fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents have been logged over the past 28 days. This level had two new entries:
• The Philippines
Niger, a landlocked nation in West Africa perhaps best known for its historical Saharan caravan cities, saw a big drop. It had been at Level 4.
The Philippines, renowned for its beaches, cuisine and friendly people, dropped from Level 2.
Finally, there are destinations, as cited above, for which the CDC has an “unknown” risk because of a lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places.
But on Tuesday, the CDC added the modern city-state of Singapore, an international crossroads, to this category. It had previously been at Level 4.
The CDC cautions even fully vaccinated travelers about venturing to destinations with no reliable statistics about the current Covid-19 situation.
In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.
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