The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added Vietnam to it’s Level 4 risk category for travel this week. Level 4 is the highest-risk level when it comes to traveling during the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are currently nearly 140 places within the Level 4 category of risk; which is more destinations than all other levels combined. In the beginning of 2022 about 80 places were on the list.
The CDC places a location at “Level 4: Very High Covid-19 Risk” when more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents are registered within 28 days.
Vietnam has become the only destination to be added to the list within recent weeks. Previously, the nation was listed at Level 3 for “high risk.” Global case numbers in general have been declining since peaking in late January, but experts are continuing to caution that the pandemic is nowhere near over.
New Zealand has had relatively few Covid cases due to strict pandemic protocol restrictions. Recently, however, the nation has recorded record numbers of cases in the past week. The country remains at “high risk” on Level 3 after moving up from Level 2 last week.
The CDC advises avoiding all travel to countries deemed Level 4. The CDC does not include the US in its list of advisories, but the nation is currently coded at Level 4. Mexico, Canada, France, Peru, Singapore, and Spain are some of the other countries that have remained at Level 4 for over a month. The United Kingdom has remained there since July 2021.
The Level 3 “high risk” category applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents within 28 days. Comoros, Hong Kong, São Tomé and Príncipe were added to the category this week.
Hong Kong went from Level 1 to Level 3 this week, it previously was on Level 1 since May 2021. Hong Kong is currently dealing with their worst Covid-19 outbreak since the start of the pandemic, and is planning on testing its entire population in March.
Destinations at a Level 2 are considered “Covid-19 moderate,” meaning they have around 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 residents within 28 days.
This week, 10 destinations moved down to Level 2, including Uganda, Ghana, Republic Of Congo, Montserrat, Rwanda, Togo, Lesotho, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Liberia.
To be considered “Level 1: Covid Low” a destination must have less than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over 28 days. Nigeria was the sole destination that moved to Level 1 this week. There are only 5 other locations considered Level 1, including China where the 2022 Winter Olympics were hosted.
Finally, the CDC also has a risk level for “unknown” risk due to a lack of information and Covid data. These are typically smaller remote places, or places with ongoing warfare/civil unrest.
Transmission rates are “one guidepost for travelers’ personal risk calculations,” according to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
“We are entering a phase in the pandemic where people need to make their own decisions based on their medical circumstances as well as their risk tolerance when it comes to contracting Covid-19,” Wen said.
“You should interpret Level 4 to mean this is a place with a lot of community transmission of Covid-19. So if you go, there is a higher chance that you could contract the coronavirus,” said Wen.
“Some people will decide the risk is too high for them, other people will say, ‘Because I am vaccinated and boosted, I am willing to take on that risk. So this really needs to be a personal decision that people weigh understanding that right now the CDC is classifying the different levels based on community transmission rates, and basically only that. They’re not taking into account individual circumstances,” Wen explained.
You can review the CDC’s risk levels for any global destination on its travel recommendations page.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.