The CDC just released its first travel advisory of the new year, and the health agency moved just one country to its highest COVID-19 Level 4 status. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the Caribbean island of Aruba from Level 3 up to Level 4, indicating a “Very High” coronavirus risk.
The CDC classifies destinations as Level 4 if they record 500 or more new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents within a 28-day period. The agency advises Americans to avoid travel to any country within the Level 4 category, and that anyone who must travel should be fully vaccinated beforehand.
The CDC also moved Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Kenya, Moldova, Mongolia, Romania, Sint Maarten and Suriname to Level 3 status, indicating a “High” level of COVID-19. While the move marked an improvement from Azerbaijan, Moldova, Mongolia and Romania’s previous Level 4 designation, it was less positive for the two Caribbean islands, the Bahamas and Sint Maarten, both of which were previously classified as Level 2, while Kenya was elevated from prior Level 1 status.
The health agency’s new travel guidance comes amid the ongoing spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant. The CDC continues to advise unvaccinated Americans to avoid any kind of travel, and recommends all eligible Americans get fully vaccinated and get their booster shots at the appropriate time. In early December, the U.S. issued new travel regulations; all international travelers are now required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of boarding their flight back to the United States.
This comes as the CDC recently shortened the recommended isolation period for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, but are asymptomatic, from 10 days to five days, followed by an additional five-day period of wearing a mask while around others.