(CNN) — A popular Middle Eastern destination and a tiny Dutch Caribbean island were added to the CDC’s “high” risk category for travel on Monday.
Jordan and Sint Eustatius were the only two additions to the Level 3, “high” risk category.
Level 3 locations account for more than half of the roughly 235 places monitored by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The designation applies to places 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 two destinations were added to Level 3 on August 8:
• Sint Eustatius
Level 4, previously the highest risk category, is now reserved only for special circumstances, such as extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern or health care infrastructure collapse. Under the new system, no destinations have been placed at Level 4 so far.
A view of the volcanic Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius seen from St Kitts. Sint Eustatius is now at Level 3, “high” risk for Covid.
182485895/eqroy – stock.adobe.com
More on Level 3
Much of Europe has been stubbornly lodged at Level 3 for months with the summer travel season now in a traditionally busy August. The following popular European destinations were among those remaining at Level 3 as of August 8:
• The Netherlands
Those aren’t the only high-profile spots that find themselves at Level 3. Numerous other destinations around the world are among those in the “high” risk category, including the following:
• Costa Rica
• South Korea
Senegal, with the Ngor area of Dakar pictured, moved to Level 2 on Monday.
Destinations carrying the “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” designation reported 50 to 100 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. The CDC designated three new Level 2 places on Monday:
The move was bad news for all three locations, which were all previously listed at Level 1. There are 20 places listed at Level 2 this week.
To be listed as “Level 1: Covid-19 Low,” a destination must have had 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over the past 28 days. Two places were added to the category on August 8:
Both destinations moved to a lower risk level. Suriname was previously listed at Level 3, and Zimbabwe was previously listed at Level 2.
There are about 25 places in the “low” risk category this week. A couple of the most popular places in the “low” risk category this week include Egypt and Tanzania.
Finally, there are the destinations the CDC has deemed to be of “unknown” risk because of a lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places with ongoing warfare or unrest.
Just one destination was added this week: Malawian.
The CDC advises against travel to these places precisely because the risks are unknown. Other destinations in this category that typically draw more tourist attention include the Azores, Hungary and the Maldives.
There are about 65 places listed as “unknown” this week, making up more than one-quarter of all the places monitored.
A medical expert weighs in on risk levels
Transmission rates are just “one guidepost” for travelers’ personal risk calculations, according to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
We’ve moved into “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,” said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
There are other factors to weigh in addition to transmission rates, according to Wen.
“Another is what precautions are required and followed in the place that you’re going and then the third is what are you planning to do once you’re there,” she said.
“Are you planning to visit a lot of attractions and go to indoor bars? That’s very different from 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. Those are very different levels of risk.”
Vaccination is the most significant safety factor for travel, since unvaccinated travelers are more likely to become ill 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 away from home.
Top image: Al-Khazneh temple is seen at ancient city Petra, Jordan. (Ali Balikci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)