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The CDC’s do-not-travel list now encompasses more than half the world’s destinations

(Washington Post illustration; iStock)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has moved seven more countries to its highest-risk category for travel — a list that has grown to include 134 destinations, with many added since the World Health Organization declared omicron a “variant of concern” on Nov. 26.

The CDC on Monday gave the Democratic Republic of Congo, Oman, Libya, Japan, Israel, Cuba and Armenia a “Level 4″ warning, which means it is recommending that Americans avoid traveling there, even if vaccinated.

The CDC’s four levels — which start at “low” risk and escalate to “moderate,” “high” and “very high” — are designed to help Americans navigate travel in the pandemic as case levels continue to fluctuate. The public health agency recommends that all travelers should be fully vaccinated, regardless of their destination’s designation. For countries deemed “very high” risk, the CDC guidance is to “avoid travel.”

Countries and territories marked as “Level 4″ have an infection incidence rate of more than 500 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the past 28 days (or, in places with fewer than 100,000 residents, more than 500 cases cumulatively over the past 28 days). The CDC also takes into account a country or territory’s capacity to test for the coronavirus.

CNN reports that Israel has been on the CDC’s Level 4 list since Jan. 18, but is listed as a new entry because the agency’s warning now includes guidance on Gaza and the West Bank.

The CDC’s do not travel list, explained

A destination’s risk designation can go up if both metrics — the case count and the testing capacity — meet the criteria for a higher-risk category for two weeks, or sooner “if there is a large increase in COVID-19 cases reported,” the CDC says.

The State Department issues its own travel advisories, which factor in the CDC’s recommendations but also include other threats such as terrorism, civil unrest, crime and natural disasters.

Hannah Sampson contributed to this report.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant. Here’s some guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

Variants: Instead of a single new Greek letter variant, a group of immune-evading omicron spinoffs are popping up all over the world. Any dominant variant will likely knock out monoclonal antibodies, targeted drugs that can be used as a treatment or to protect immunocompromised people.

Tripledemic: Hospitals are overwhelmed by a combination of respiratory illnesses, staffing shortages and nursing home closures. And experts believe the problem will deteriorate further in coming months. Here’s how to tell the difference between RSV, the flu and covid-19.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people. Nearly nine out of 10 covid deaths are people over the age 65.

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