CDC: Don’t travel to South Korea or French Polynesia



Editor’s Note — Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Find out about openings and closings of destinations and inspiration for future adventures. Also, get the most recent news in aviation, food, and drink.

(CNN) — On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified a half-dozen new areas as “very high” travel risk. These included South Korea and French Polynesia.

The six new “very high” level 4 categories are far-flung: Azerbaijan on Caspian Sea, Belarus, which is located in a very tension spot bordering Russia and Ukraine, Comoros, off Africa’s east coastline, French Polynesia in South Pacific, Saint Pierre and Miquelon (a French archipelago to the south of Canada’s Newfoundland); and South Korea.

The CDC’s highest-risk level has risen to Level 4, which is almost 140 places. This demonstrates the rapid growth of Omicron variants all around the globe. There were approximately 80 destinations there in January.

Level 4 has more destinations now than any other CDC category combined, and represents more than half the destinations that are listed by the CDC.

On February 14, Destinations were added to Level 4.

• Azerbaijan
• Belarus
• Comoros
• French Polynesia
• Saint Pierre and Miquelon
• South Korea

Last week, all six destinations had a Level 3 status, which means they were “highly” at risk for Covid-19.

The CDC recommends that travelers avoid Level 4 countries. The CDC thresholds for travel warnings are based primarily upon the number of Covid-19-positive cases in a destination.

If more than 500 cases have been registered per 100,000 residents in the last 28 days, the CDC puts the destination at Level 4.

South Korea moved to Level 4 on Monday. Here, visitors pose for photos at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul on July 3, 2020.

South Korea has moved up to Level 4 Monday. This is where visitors pose for photos at Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul on July 3, 2020.

ED JONES/AFP/AFP via Getty Images

A medical expert assesses the risk levels

According to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Shen, transmission rates can be used as a guideline for travelers’ risk calculations.

Wen announced Monday that the pandemic is entering a new phase. People will have to make their own decisions, based on their medical situation and their risk tolerance for contracting Covid-19.

Level 4 should be understood to indicate that there is a lot of Covid-19 community transmission. “There is a greater chance of you contracting the coronavirus if you travel,” explained Wen, an emergency physician and professor of public health policy at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Wen stated that some people may decide the risk is too great for them. “Some people will say that because I am vaccinated or boosted, they are willing to take the risk.

Wen stated that “So this really should be a personal decision that people weigh understanding the fact that the CDC currently classifies the different levels based upon community transmission rates and basically only that.” “They don’t take into account individual circumstances.”

Other notable places on Level 4

While the CDC does NOT include the United States in their list of advisories it did color-code at Level 4 on the agency’s travel risk map.

Japan was one the major tourist destinations to be added to Level 4 last week

Mexico, Canada, France and Peru are some other tourist destinations that have parked at Level 4 for longer periods of time. Since July 2021 the United Kingdom is there.

The CDC recommends that you avoid all international travel until your immunity is fully restored.
Mauritius dropped down to "high" risk Level 3 on Monday.

Monday’s Mauritius risk level 3 was reduced to “high”.

Laura Morosoli/AFP via Getty Images

Level 3: Changes

On Monday, four new additions were made to the Level 3 “high risk” category. This applies to destinations with between 100-500 cases per 100,000 residents within the last 28 days. They were:

• El Salvador
• Eswatini
• Indonesia
• Mauritius

Eswatini & Mauritius have fallen one rung from Level 4. El Salvador’s Risk Level increased from Level 2 and Indonesia rose two risk levels to Level 1.

Levels 1, 2, and unspecified

The “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” designation has seen between 50 and 99 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the past 28-days. Monday’s update by the CDC on Pakistan was made. The guidance had been moved to Level 2 by the CDC last week. There were no other changes to Level 2.

Currently, only four destinations are at Level 2. This includes New Zealand, which has some restrictions on travel.

To be considered “Level 1”: Covid-19 Low, a destination must have 50 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents within the past 28 days.

On Monday, no destinations were transferred to Level 1. There are only six destinations currently listed in this category. This includes China which is hosting the Winter Olympic Games.

The CDC is aware of destinations where there is a risk of an unknown outcome due to a lack information. These are usually remote areas or places that have ongoing war or unrest. This week, there were no new additions.

Some of the most popular destinations currently in the unknown category include the Canary Islands and Tanzania. These places are not recommended by the CDC because of unknown risks.


A cruise ship waits for people to embark before leaving PortMiami on December 31, 2021, in Miami, Florida.

A cruise ship awaits passengers to embark, before departing PortMiami on December 31, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The CDC lists cruise ships as a destination. Since December 30, cruise travel is at Level 4. Cruise travel is discouraged according to the CDC.

The CDC states in its travel advisory that Covid-19 is a risk factor and recommends that travelers at higher risk for severe illness avoid traveling on cruise ships.

The CDC has updated its travel warning for cruise travel, adding criteria that will determine cruise ship risk. The February 9 update maintained Level 4 for cruise travel.

The primary criteria used by the CDC to assess the risk level for cruise travel is the number and trajectory of Covid-19 cases among crew members over the last 14 days.

Level 4 refers to more than 2,000 cases that were detected by crew members on cruise ships in the last 14 days. Level 3 includes 1,000 to 2000 news cases. Level 2 contains 500-999 new case and Level 1 consists of fewer that 500 new crew cases.

Travel considerations:

Dr. Wen explains that transmission rates are an important consideration when making travel decisions. But there are other factors you need to weigh, too.

Wen stated, “The transmission rates only serve as a guidepost.” “The other is the precautions that must be taken and the steps to follow in the area you are going. The third is the plan of action once you get there.

Are you looking to see a lot of attractions while also visiting indoor bars? This is very different to if you are going to a place where you plan on lying on the beach for the entire day without interfacing with anyone. This is very different. These are very different levels.

Wen said that vaccines are the most important safety factor for travelers, since non-vaccinated travelers are at greater risk of becoming ill or transmitting Covid-19 to others.

“Those who are not vaccinated continue to be at high risk. They should not be travelling at this time,” she stated.

She stated that everyone should use a high-quality mask (N95, KN95, or KF94) whenever they are in an indoor setting with people who have not been vaccinated.

It’s important to think about what you would do if you were to test positive abroad. How easy is it to get a return test?

Top image: Luxury villas overwater on Bora Bora Island in French Polynesia. (Adobe Stock photo)

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.