US CDC relaxes travel recommendations in some 110 countries, including Japan
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxed travel recommendations for more than 110 countries and territories, including Japan just before the Olympics.
The CDC’s new ratings, first reported by Reuters and published on a CDC website on Monday, include 61 countries that have been downgraded from its highest rating of “level 4” which has discouraged all travel to recommend travel for fully vaccinated people, the agency confirmed on Tuesday.
Another 50 countries and territories were downgraded to “level 2” or “level 1,” a CDC spokeswoman said. The lowest ranked countries for COVID-19 risk are now Singapore, Israel, South Korea, Iceland, Belize and Albania.
Among those now at “level 3” are France, Ecuador, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine , Honduras, Hungary and Italy.
The US State Department said it has updated its recommendations to reflect the recent methodology update, but noted that not all ratings have been revised due to other factors, including ” the availability of commercial flights, restrictions on entry for US citizens, and barriers to obtaining COVID test results within three calendar days. “
The State Department has eased its ratings on 85 countries and territories, including Japan.
On May 24, the State Department urged not to travel to Japan, citing a new wave of coronavirus cases before the start of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23.
The State Department warning raised concerns and prompted the White House to reaffirm its support for Tokyo’s plan to host the Games this summer and for the American athletes competing there despite a new wave of infections and a low vaccination rate in the host country.
Foreign spectators have been banned and organizers are expected to make a decision at the end of the month regarding domestic spectators.
The CDC said the change came after it revised its criteria for travel health advisories. The CDC said it had also revised its rating for the United States to “level 3” instead of “level 4”.
The agency said the new criteria for a Level 4 recommendation to “avoid all travel” has increased from 100 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 to 500 cases per 100,000.
The agency added that many countries have lower scores “because of changes in criteria or because their epidemics are better controlled.” The CDC said it expects more countries to achieve lower and more favorable travel ratings.
Other countries downgraded to “level 3” include Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Libya, Panama, Poland, Denmark and Malaysia.
Many countries that now have lower ratings remain on the U.S. government’s list of countries with severe travel restrictions – and most have been restricted since early 2020.
The US is banning nearly all non-US citizens who have been to China, UK, Ireland, India, South Africa, Brazil, Iran and the 26 Schengen country in Europe without border controls.
When asked why the United States maintains the restrictions even though some countries that now have low infection rates are subject to them, while others with high rates are exempt, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday the issue was the subject of “an interagency conversation, and we are looking at real-time data on how we should move forward.”
Reuters reported on Tuesday that the Biden administration was forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to determine the best way to resume travel safely after 15 months of restrictions pandemic, citing a White House official. Read more
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