(CNN) – The CDC added three new destinations on Monday to its “high” risk list for Covid-19, including an Asian Pacific island nation beloved by tourists for its stunning beaches.
The Philippines, a country of 7,000 tropical islands with stunning ocean views, delicious food and people known for their hospitality, joins mountaineer favorites Russia and Nepal in the “high” risk group, also called Level 3.
Tier 3 locations now account for almost 130 of approximately 235 locations monitored by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — more than half of all listings.
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.
To recap, these three destinations were added to Tier 3 on August 15:
• The Philippines
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.
More on level 3
Most of Europe has been stuck stubbornly at Tier 3 for months, with the summer travel season already in a traditionally busy August. The following popular European destinations were among those remaining in Tier 3 as of August 15:
• The Netherlands
• United Kingdom
The ruins of Tulum, Mexico, overlook the Caribbean Sea in Mexico, which is still at level 3.
Jesse Kraft/Adobe stock
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
This is the lush island of Principe, part of São Tomé and Príncipe. This island nation is located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Gabon in Africa and moved to level 2 this week.
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.
The CDC designated just one new Tier 2 site on Monday: Sao Tome and Principe, a beautiful group of islands off the coast of West Africa and off most tourists’ radars. He ascended from Level 1.
There are only 18 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. No new countries were added to the category on August 15.
Almost 25 countries were in the “low” risk category this week. Some of the most popular countries with world travelers in the “low” risk category this week included Cuba, 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 ongoing wars or unrest.
Two new destinations were added this week:
Both African countries had been in tier 1 before.
The CDC advises against traveling to these countries precisely because the risks are unknown. Other destinations in this category that attract more tourist attention include Hungary and Vietnam.
There are more than 65 countries listed as “unknown” this week, accounting for more than a quarter 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 doctor 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 plan 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.
Main Image: Hidden Beach in Matinloc Island, Palawan, Philippines. (Simon Dannhauer/Adobe Stock)