The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relaxed travel recommendations for more than 110 countries and territories, including Japan, just before the Olympics.
The CDC’s new ratings were first reported by Reuters and posted on a CDC website on Monday, including 61 nations that were lowered from its highest “Level 4” rating that discouraged all travel to recommending travel for fully vaccinated individuals, the agency confirmed on Tuesday.
Another 50 countries and territories have been lowered to “Level 2” or “Level 1,” a CDC spokeswoman said. Countries ranked lowest for COVID-19 risks now include Singapore, Israel, South Korea, Iceland, Belize and Albania.
Among those now listed at “Level 3,” are France, Ecuador, Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Honduras, Hungary, and Italy.
A U.S. State Department official said it was in the process of revising its travel advisory to reflect the CDC changes.
The CDC said the change comes after it revised its criteria for travel health notices. The CDC said it has also revised its rating for the United States to “Level 3” from “Level 4.”
The agency said the new criteria for a Level 4 “avoid all travel” recommendation has changed from 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 to 500 cases per 100,000.
The agency added that many countries have lower ratings “because of the criteria changes or because their outbreaks are better controlled.” The CDC said it expects more countries to get lower, more favourable travel ratings.
Other countries being lowered to “Level 3” include Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Libya, Panama, Poland, Denmark and Malaysia.
Many of the countries that now have lower ratings remain on the U.S. government’s list of countries subject to severe travel restrictions – and most have been subject to the restrictions since early 2020.
The United States bars nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have within the previous 14 days been to China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, South Africa, Brazil, Iran and the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls.
Asked why the United States is maintaining the warnings even though some countries now have low infection rates subject to the restrictions, while others with high rates are exempt, CDC Director Rochelle Wallensky said on Tuesday the issue is subject to “an interagency conversation, and we are looking at the data in real-time as to how we should move forward with that.”
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