(CNN) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their travel advice page for Covid-19 on Tuesday. Only two new places, both in Africa, joined the overcrowded “high” risk category.
But perhaps more remarkable this week is the news that two destinations in stubbornly high Europe have been relegated to “moderate” risk.
Sweden’s Scandinavian cultural powerhouse and Eastern Europe’s densely forested and historic Romania offer two bright spots on a continent trapped in the “high” risk category.
The level 3 “high” risk category is now the highest step in terms of risk level. Level 2 is considered “moderate” risk. Level 1 is “low” risk.
Level 4, previously the highest risk category, is now only reserved for special circumstances, such as extremely high numbers of cases, the emergence of a new care variant or the collapse of the care infrastructure. No destinations have been placed at level 4 under the new system so far.
A herd of elephants is spotted in eastern Botswana. The South African nation is now at level 3.
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
The “Level 3: Covid-19 High” category now applies to places with more than 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 28 days. The two destinations joining Level 3 this week are:
• Cape Verde
A landlocked safari favourite, Botswana went all the way up from Level 1, while Cape Verde, off the west coast of Africa in the North Atlantic, went up from Level 2.
As of June 21, there were more than 110 Level 3 destinations. Level 3 locations account for nearly half of the approximately 235 places monitored by the CDC.
More at level 3
The Eiffel Tower basks in a romantic Parisian twilight. France is still at level 3 of the CDC.
Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images
Despite the good news about Sweden and Romania, much of Europe has been stubbornly stuck there for months now that the summer travel season has started. On June 21, the following popular European destinations belonged to level 3:
• The Netherlands
• United Kingdom
But it’s not just European favorites who are at Level 3. Numerous notable travel destinations around the world belong to the ‘high’ risk category, including the following:
• Costa Rica
• South Korea
Biertan is one of the most important Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, Romania. The Eastern European nation is now at Level 2.
Andrea Ricordi/Moment RF/Getty Images
Destinations labeled “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” reported 50 to 100 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 28 days. In total, six places were moved to this level on Tuesday:
Unlike the two European countries, the move to Level 2 was actually not good news for Bolivia, Kenya and Morocco, which were at Level 1 (Ethiopia did not appear in last week’s roundup).
To be in “Level 1: Covid-19 Low”, a destination must have had 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 28 days. Six destinations around the world were added to the category on June 21:
• The savior
• St. Eustatius
The move was particularly good news for the small Dutch island of St. Eustatius in the Caribbean, which was located on Level 3.
Last week, El Salvador, Fiji and Moldova were at level 2, while Africa’s Guinea and Tanzania were ‘unknown’.
Finally, there are the destinations that the CDC has deemed an “unknown” risk due to a lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places of ongoing war or unrest. Four places have been added to this category this week:
• Democratic Republic of the Congo
The CDC does not recommend traveling to these places precisely because the risks are unknown. Other destinations in this category include Cambodia, the Canary Islands and Macau.
A medical expert weighs in on risk levels
Transmission rates are just “one guideline” for travelers’ personal risk assessments, according to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
We have entered “a phase in the pandemic where people have to make their own decisions based on their medical conditions and their risk tolerance when it comes to contracting Covid-19,” Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management, said. the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
According to Wen, there are other factors to consider in addition to transmission speeds.
“Another is what precautions are required and followed where you go and the third is what you plan to do when you get there,” she said.
“Do you plan to visit a lot of attractions and go to indoor bars? That’s a lot different than going somewhere where you plan to lie on the beach all day and not interact with anyone else. That’s a lot different. Those are very different levels of risk.”
Vaccination is the most important safety factor for travel, as unvaccinated travelers are more likely to get sick and transmit Covid-19 to others, Wen said.
And it’s also important to consider what you would do if you tested positive outdoors.
Top image: Dusk over Riddarholmen Church in Stockholm, Sweden. (K’Nub/Moment RF/Getty Images)