CDC says travelers should avoid Puerto Rico, Switzerland, other destinations due to COVID

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added two U.S. territories to its list of destinations with “very high” COVID-19 risk, advising Americans against traveling to Puerto Rico and Guam, among other destinations in CDC Travel Health Notices issued Monday.

The agency also upgraded Switzerland, Saint Lucia, Azerbaijan, Estonia and North Macedonia to Level 4 on Monday. Level 4 is the CDC’s highest risk category. The State Department also added those five countries to its “Level 4: Do Not Travel” list due to COVID concerns.

The State Department, which takes CDC Travel Health Notices into account for its own travel advisories, also urged travelers to “reconsider travel” to Canada, Germany, Bermuda and a number of other countries upgraded to Level 3 status on Monday.

Just a day earlier, the European Union removed North Macedonia and the U.S. from its safe travel list, along with several other countries.

According to the CDC, Americans should “avoid travel” to destinations with “very high” risk of COVID-19. However if they must travel, the public health agency advises full vaccination. Unvaccinated travelers who must travel are advised to take a number of safety precautions.

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What CDC says unvaccinated travelers should do if they must travel

  • Before travel: Get a viral test 1-3 days before departure.

  • While traveling: Wear a face mask, social distance and wash hands frequently.

  • After travel: Get a viral test 3-5 days after returning and self-quarantine for 7 full days. Travelers who opt out of testing should self-isolate for 10 full days.
    Avoid being around immunocompromised people for 14 days, regardless of testing.
    Self-monitor for COVID symptoms and follow all local guidelines.

  • Do not travel if you have been exposed to COVID, have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.

People are seen on the beach despite the governor request to stay at home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 15, 2020.

People are seen on the beach despite the governor request to stay at home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 15, 2020.

Bahamas, France, United Kingdom, other countries, already classified as ‘very high’ risk by CDC

Last week, the CDC and State Department advised Americans against non-essential travel to the Bahamas and several other countries. A number of other popular destinations are already on the CDC’s Level 4 list, including France, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The CDC assesses COVID risk based on each destination’s new cases and new case trajectory. The Travel Health Notice level can be raised if a large increase in COVID cases is reported or a destination’s case count meets or exceeds the threshold for a higher level for 14 straight days. Level 4 destinations have more than 500 new cases per 100,000 people over the past 28 days or more than 500 cases period if their population is smaller than 100,000.

A Swiss flag is seen at sunset above Lake Geneva from Riez on October 5, 2017.

A Swiss flag is seen at sunset above Lake Geneva from Riez on October 5, 2017.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: CDC: ‘Avoid travel’ to Puerto Rico, Switzerland due to COVID risk