THE US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has returned Jamaica to its Level 4 highest-risk travel category for COVID-19.
In its weekly revised travel risk advisory, which was released on Monday evening, the CDC added Jamaica as one of 15 countries to Level 4, or “very high” risk showing the continuing grip the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has on the world right now.
The CDC places a destination at Level 4 when more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents are registered in the past 28 days.
The CDC advises travellers to avoid travel to Level 4 countries. Four other Caribbean destinations made it to the Level 4 list. They are the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, St Barthélemy and St Martin.
Caribbean destinations represent one third of the new entries on this week's revised travel risk advisory. The other 10 Level 4 additions this week are Colombia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Kuwait, Mongolia, Niger, Peru, Romania, Tunisia, and United Arab Emirates
Last week, 22 destinations were added to Level 4. In November last year the CDC placed Jamaica on the Level 4 list to remove it from Level 4 to Level 3, which is classified as having a high level of COVID-19 and travellers are to make sure that they are fully vaccinated before travel.
Unvaccinated travellers should avoid non-essential travel to these destinations. Haiti, which is located on the island of Hispaniola alongside the Dominican Republic, was already at Level 4.
In addition French-speaking St Martin, which also shares an island with Dutch-speaking St Maarten, was already at Level 4. Other Caribbean destinations that were also already at Level 4 include Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Curaçao, and Turks and Caicos, among others.
Two mainland countries with Caribbean coastlines – Costa Rica in Central America and Colombia in South America – are on Level 4 as well. Other notable travel hot spots added to Level 4 this week that the CDC suggests travellers avoid include Peru, home to Machu Picchu, and the United Arab Emirates, where Dubai is located.
Last week, 14 of the 15 now highest risk destinations were at Level 3, which is considered “high” risk for COVID-19. Niger, a landlocked nation in West Africa best known for its ancient caravan cities, had been at Level 1, which is considered “low” risk.
The Level 4 list now contains almost 120 places. In early January, there were around 80 destinations, further demonstrating the reach of the Omicron variant.
The CDC does not include the United States in its list of advisories, but it was colour-coded at Level 4 on January 24 on the agency's map of travel risk levels. In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.