CDC: Avoid the “very high” risk island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean

(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added just one new destination to its high-risk category for travel on Monday – and it’s an Indian Ocean island nation again.

Ascended to level 4 is Madagascar. Off the southeast coast of Africa, it’s known for its unique wildlife, including lemurs, and for being the fourth largest island in the world.

The CDC places a destination at the risk level “Level 4: Covid-19 very high” when more than 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants are recorded in the last 28 days.

Madagascar resided at the “Level 3: Covid-19 High” risk level last week.

There are now around 120 destinations at Level 4. While the number of places in the “very high” risk category has been falling since peaking at around 140 in February, there are still more places in the level 4 category than all other categories combined. .

To recap, only new addition to Tier 4 on March 21:

• Madagascar

CDC: avoid Tier 4 destinations

The El Prado Museum is a huge draw in Madrid, Spain. However, the country remains at the CDC’s Level 4 warning.

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images

The CDC advises avoiding travel to Tier 4 countries. The CDC’s thresholds for travel health notices are based primarily on the number of Covid-19 cases in a destination.

The CDC does not include the United States in its advisory list, but it was color-coded to Level 4 on March 21 on the agency’s travel risk levels map.

Favorites for tourists stuck in Tier 4 include Aruba, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Peru and Spain. The UK has been there since July 2021.

In its broader travel guidelines, the CDC recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully immunized.

Changes at Level 3

The Tier 3 “high” risk category – which applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 population in the past 28 days – saw five additions on Monday — spots scattered around the world. They were:

• Albania
• Bolivia
• Botswana
• Colombia
• Guyana

The move to Tier 3 was good news for the quintet, who were all Tier 4 last week. Colombia in particular has become a popular travel destination in recent years, including its cosmopolitan capital Bogotá.

Levels 2, 1 and unknown

The Hassan II Mosque stands in Casablanca, Morocco.

The Hassan II Mosque stands in Casablanca, Morocco.


Destinations with the designation “Level 2: Moderate Covid-19” have recorded 50 to 99 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. The four new Tier 2 entries on March 21 are:

• Guinea
• Guinea-Bissau
• Morocco
• Nepal

All four had been at level 3, including the big favorite of tourists from Morocco.

To be at “Level 1: Covid-19 low”, a destination must have registered fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. Six places moved to level 1 on Monday:

• Cameroon
• Green cap
• Gabon
• The Gambia
• Mozambique
• Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo fell the most, from Level 4. Cape Verde was at Level 3. And the rest were at Level 2 “moderate”.

Africa continues to be a bright spot on the current Covid map, as all six of them are there.

Overall, there are now 30 Tier 1 destinations, and all but three (China, Saba, and Taiwan) are in Africa. This includes Kenya, a favorite of safari enthusiasts.

Finally, there are destinations for which the CDC has an “unknown” risk due to lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places or places where war or unrest is going on. The CDC has no news additions to the category on Monday.

Cambodia, the Canary Islands, Macao, and Tanzania are some of the most visited places currently listed in the unknown category. The CDC advises against travel to these places precisely because the risks are unknown.

Medical expert weighs in on risk levels

Transmission rates are “a benchmark” for travelers’ personal risk calculations, according to CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

“We are entering a phase of the pandemic where people have to make their own decisions based on their medical situation as well as their risk tolerance when it comes to contracting Covid-19,” Wen said in mid -February.

“You have to interpret level 4 to mean that it is a place with a lot of community transmission of Covid-19. So if you go there, you are more likely to contract the coronavirus,” said said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Some people will decide the risk is too high for them, Wen said. “Other people will say, ‘Because I’m vaccinated and boosted, I’m willing to take that risk.’

“So it really has to be a personal decision that people weigh knowing that right now the CDC is categorizing the different tiers based on community transmission rates, and basically just that,” Wen said. “They don’t take into account individual circumstances.”

More Travel Considerations

There are other factors to weigh in addition to transmission rates, according to Wen.

“Transmission rates are a benchmark,” Wen said. “Another is what precautions are needed and followed where you are going, and then the third is what you plan to do once you get there.

“Are you planning on visiting a lot of attractions and going to indoor bars? It’s very different from going somewhere where you plan to lay on the beach all day and not interact with anyone outside. “other. It’s very different. It’s 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.

“Unvaccinated people remain at high risk and really shouldn’t travel at this point,” she said.

People should wear a high-quality mask — N95, KN95 or KF94 — whenever they’re in crowded indoor settings with people whose vaccination status is unknown, she said.

And it’s also important to think about what you would do if you became positive outside of your home. Where will you be staying and how easy will it be to take a test to return home?

Top image: Colorful canoes line the beach in Morondava, Madagascar. (Reto Ammann/Adobe Stock)


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