CDC removes all countries from highest COVID travel risk category

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday removed all the remaining countries from its highest coronavirus risk advisory category.

The designation, now known as “Level 4: Special Circumstances/Do Not Travel,” warns travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to the countries and urges vaccinations in the event travel is required, the CDC’s website said.

More than 100 locations, including Australia, Canada, France and the U.K., are still listed at the agency’s “Level 3: COVID-19 High” warning.

“Make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before traveling to these destinations. If you are not up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, avoid travel to these destinations,” the advisory for that level said.

Many of the Level 3 locations were listed as Level 4 as recently as Sunday. At that time, the level was known as “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High.”

But last week, the agency announced that it would reserve “Level 4” warnings “for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse,” according to a statement.

“With this new configuration, travelers will have a more actionable alert for when they should not travel to a certain destination (Level 4), regardless of vaccination status, until we have a clearer understanding of the COVID-19 situation at that destination,” the statement added.

Earlier this month, the CDC said that 2021 was the deadliest year in American history due to the pandemic. The data published through the end of the third quarter of 2021 indicated that the U.S. saw a death rate of 1,058.8 per 100,000 people.

Those figures marked a nearly 10 percent increase over the 12-month period the prior year and a 21 percent jump from 2019.

The pandemic caused 415,000 American deaths last year, according to the CDC.

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