Africa tourism favourite now at ‘high’ risk for Covid-19

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has placed a popular African destination in its ‘high’ Covid-19 risk category for travellers.

South Africa – renowned for its stunning vistas, wildlife, wineries and culture – is now at Level 3. In total, the CDC moved up four destinations to the ‘high’ risk column on Monday:

• Antigua and Barbuda

• Lesotho

• South Africa

• Taiwan

The CDC recently overhauled its ratings system for assessing Covid-19 risk for travellers.

The Level 3 ‘high’ risk category is now the top rung in terms of risk level. Level 2 is considered ‘moderate’ risk, and Level 1 is ‘low’ risk.

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.

Lesotho, a mountainous landlocked nation within South Africa, moved up from Level 1 on Monday. All the other places had been at Level 2.

Last week, only one new destination was placed in Level 3: the British Virgin Islands.

Overall, the past four weeks of advisories have seen little in the way of the dramatic shifts in status that characterised this past winter and early spring during the original Omicron variant surge.

In the CDC’s new system, the ‘Level 3: Covid-19 High’ category applies to countries that have had more than 100 cases per 100 000 residents in the past 28 days.

Much of Europe has been stubbornly lodged there with the summer travel season getting ever closer. As of May 16, the following popular European destinations were among those remaining at:

Level 3

• France

• Germany

• Greece

• Ireland

• Italy

• The Netherlands

• Portugal

• Spain

• United Kingdom

It’s not just European favourites that find themselves at Level 3. Several notable destinations around the world are among those in the high risk category, including the following:

• Brazil

• Canada

• Costa Rica

• Malaysia

• South Korea

• Thailand

There were about 110 destinations at Level 3 on May 16, a slight increase from May 9. Level 3 locations now account for nearly half of the roughly 235 places monitored by the CDC.

The CDC advises that you get up-to-date with your Covid-19 vaccines before traveling to a Level 3 destination. Being “up-to-date” means you have had not only the full initial vaccinations but any boosters for which you’re eligible.

LEVEL 2

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. Just two places were moved to this level on Monday:

• Anguilla

• Lebanon

This was good news for the Caribbean island and the Middle Eastern getaway, which had been at Level 3. Fewer than 20 places were listed at Level 2 on Monday.

You can view the CDC’s risk levels for any global destination on the agency’s travel recommendations page.

In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

If you’re concerned about a travel-specific health situation not related to Covid-19, check here.

LEVEL 1

To be in ‘Level 1: Covid-19 Low’, a destination must have had 49 or fewer new cases per 100 000 residents over the past 28 days. Four destinations were added to the category on May 16:

• Jordan

• Mongolia

• Sri Lanka

• Zimbabwe

All four nations had been at Level 2 last week.

This level is dominated by destinations in Africa, including Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda.

Level 1 had just over 50 entries as of Monday.