State Department elevates 6 countries to its highest risk level, while also warning against travel to China

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Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to warn travelers to avoid traveling to any new destinations Monday, the U.S. Department of State elevated six countries to its highest risk level, while also separately warning against travel to China.

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In what would suggest good news for travelers worried about potentially catching COVID-19 while traveling abroad, the CDC has not added any new countries to the highest level of its four-level system for COVID-19 incidence rates since March 14, when Mauritius joined the list.

With the Indian Ocean island being the latest addition a month ago, the CDC has not since identified any countries with more than 500 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, the benchmark for the health agency’s Level 4 Travel Health Notice, used to signal travelers of places deemed to have “very high” levels of COVID-19.

Even so, approximately 90 destinations remain at Level 4, including most of Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean, in addition to countries throughout the Middle East and Africa.

While the CDC currently advises Americans to “avoid travel” to nearly half of the world due to COVID-19, more than half of these countries were upgraded to Level 4 last year, indicating consistent new cases due to new variants despite increased vaccination rates overall.

The State Department added six “Do Not Travel” warnings April 11, with the total number of Level 4 countries now exceeding 100. The State Department issues these travel advisories to reflect ongoing safety concerns in a given place.

In April alone, the department has issued Level 4 warnings for 11 places, including the six nations this week.

Many of the same countries are listed at Level 4 by both the CDC and State Department, including New Zealand, Singapore, Aruba and almost all of Europe.

Although the U.S. government stopped short of telling Americans to refrain from traveling to China this week, it asked U.S. citizens to “reconsider” travel to specific parts of China and Hong Kong, while also releasing a separate order for government employees based in Shanghai.

Related: CDC lowers COVID-19 warnings for Canada, Argentina, Jamaica

(Screenshot from the U.S. State Department)

On April 11, the department directed nonessential government employees and family members to evacuate from the Consulate General in Shanghai, citing a “surge in COVID-19 cases and the impact of restrictions related to the PRC’s response.”

Despite moving forward with the easing of an ongoing two-week COVID-19 lockdown in some areas in China’s most populous city, Shanghai recorded more than 25,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, according to reporting by Reuters.

“Reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws and COVID-19-related restrictions,” the State Department’s travel advisory for China reads. “Do not travel to the PRC’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), Jilin province, and Shanghai municipality due to COVID-19-related restrictions, including the risk of parents and children being separated. Reconsider travel to the PRC’s Hong Kong SAR due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

Both agencies release updated warnings weekly, designed to assist tourists with concerns about upcoming travel to specific countries. The warnings range in severity from Level 1 to Level 4, reflecting the latest health and safety concerns in a travel destination.

Read more: The difference between CDC and State Department travel warnings

Featured photo of delivery drivers on a street in Shanghai, China, April 12, 2022, by Costfoto/Future Publishing/Getty Images.

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