Travel Destinations

Kenya moves to CDC’s ‘low’ risk category for Covid-19

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(CNN) — For the second consecutive week, no destinations were added to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high” risk category for travel. A few destinations moved down a risk level, including Kenya, which is now in the “low” risk category.

Kenya was previously listed at Level 2, along with the West African nation of Togo, which also moved down to the Level 1, or “low” risk, category of the CDC’s regularly updated travel notices.

The British Overseas Territory of Montserrat in the Caribbean dropped into Level 2, or “moderate” risk for Covid-19, from Level 3.

One nation, Timor-Leste in southeast Asia, moved up one rung to Level 2.

And one destination, Dutch Sint Maarten in the Caribbean dropped into the “unknown” category from Level 3. Destinations move to that category when there is a lack of information.

More than half of the destinations monitored by the CDC are still listed in the Level 3, “high” risk category..

The designation applies to places that have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

Destinations carrying the “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” designation reported 50 to 100 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

To be listed as “Level 1: Covid-19 Low,” a destination must have had 49 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over the past 28 days.

Level 4, previously the highest risk category, is now reserved only for special circumstances, such as extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern or health care infrastructure collapse. The CDC advises against traveling to these destinations. Under the new system, no destinations have been placed at Level 4 so far.

A medical expert weighs in on risk levels

The CDC advises travelers to get up to date with Covid-19 vaccines before traveling internationally. Being “up to date” means you have not only the full initial vaccinations but any boosters for which you’re eligible.

We’re in “a phase in the pandemic where people need to make their own decisions based on their medical circumstances as well as their risk tolerance when it comes to contracting Covid-19,” according to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

Vaccination is the most significant safety factor for travel, said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“Most people who are up-to-date on their vaccines are highly protected from becoming severely ill,” she said.

Consider what you would do if you end up testing positive away from home, Wen advised.

“Do you have access to treatments such as antiviral pills or monoclonal antibodies? Ask your doctor in advance of your trip whether you are eligible, then know where to find these treatments when traveling abroad,” she said.

Wen also advises packing extra coronavirus tests and bringing them with you on your trip.

While US-bound travelers no longer have to present a negative Covid-19 test to get home from international destinations, the CDC still advises testing before boarding flights back to the States and not traveling if you are sick.
“Of course, if people have symptoms or exposure while traveling, they need to get tested, and if they test positive, to follow the CDC’s isolation guidelines,” Wen told CNN Travel.
If you’re concerned about a travel-specific health situation not related to Covid-19, check here.

Top image: Lionesses with cubs walk together near sunset at the Masai Mara in Kenya. (Vicki Jauron/Babylon and Beyond/Moment RF/Getty Images)