(CNN) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not add any new destinations to the list of nations and territories with a “high” risk of Covid-19 on Monday.
However, “high” risk countries — defined as Level 3 — still account for almost 130 of the approximately 235 countries monitored by the CDC.
That’s more than half of all the countries on the CDC site, and some of these destinations are among the most popular for tourists around the world.
Only one country, the sparsely populated desert nation of Namibia, moved out of Level 3 with a lower risk rating this week.
The designation applies to countries that have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. Level 2 and Level 1 are considered “moderate” and “low” risk respectively.
Relatively few countries in the world are currently at Levels 2 or 1.
Level 4, previously the highest risk category, is now reserved only for special circumstances, such as an unusually high number of cases, the emergence of a new variant of concern or the collapse of healthcare infrastructure. Under the new system, no destination has been placed at level 4 so far.
“Unknown” is for countries from which CDC has not received enough data to make an estimate.
More on level 3
Amsterdam’s bridges and canals are a favorite among tourists in the Netherlands, which ranks 3rd along with most of Europe.
Much of Europe has been stubbornly stuck at Level 3 for months with the summer travel season now winding down. The following popular European destinations were among those remaining at Level 3 as of August 22:
• The Netherlands
• United Kingdom
These aren’t the only high-profile spots to find themselves at Level 3. Numerous other destinations around the world are among those in the “high” risk category, including:
• Costa Rica
• South Korea
And Level 3 isn’t limited to heavy hitting. Case in point: Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, a self-governing archipelagic territory of France located off the southern coast of Newfoundland in Canada, and the French department of the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, are also in this category.
A beautiful sunset highlights the dunes of the Namib Desert in Sossusvlei, Namibia. The South West African nation was relegated to Tier 2 this week.
Iuliia Sokolovska/Adobe Stock
Destinations carrying the “Level 2: Moderate Covid-19” designation reported 50 to 100 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
CDC added two destinations to Level 2 on Monday:
The move was bad news for Cuba, which had been in Tier 1. Namibia dropped from Tier 3.
There are only 19 countries listed in Tier 2 this week. Some of the most visited countries in this category are India, Kenya and South Africa.
To be listed as “Level 1: Low Covid-19”, a destination must have had 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over the past 28 days. Only one new country was added to the category on August 22: Saudi Arabiawhich had been at level 2.
Only 22 countries were in the “low” risk category this week. Some of the most popular countries with global travelers in the “low” risk category this week included Egypt and Tanzania.
Finally, there are destinations that the CDC has deemed to be of “unknown” risk due to a lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote countries or places with constant war or unrest.
A new destination was added this week: the tiny West African nation Benwhich had been at level 1.
The CDC advises against traveling to these countries precisely because the risks are unknown. Other destinations in this category that usually attract more attention from tourists include Hungary, the Maldives and Vietnam.
There are almost 70 countries listed as “unknown” this week, accounting for almost a third of all countries monitored.
A medical expert assesses risk levels
Transmission rates are only “a guide” for calculating travelers’ personal risk, according to CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
We have moved into “a stage of the pandemic where people have to make their own decisions based on their medical circumstances as well as their risk tolerance when it comes to contracting Covid-19,” said Wen, who is a physician and professor of emergency. in health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
There are other factors to weigh besides transmission rate, according to Wen.
“Another is the precautions that are required and followed in the place you are going and then the third is what you plan to do once you are there,” she said.
“Are you planning to visit a lot of attractions and go to indoor bars? That’s very different than if you’re going somewhere where you’re planning to lie on the beach all day and not interact with anyone else. That’s very different These are 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.
And it’s also important to consider what you would do if you end up testing positive outside the home.
Top image: Moored boats line the waterfront in Buzios, a resort town not far from Rio de Janeiro. (Ekaterina Belova/Adobe Stock)