The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its “high” risk category for travel on Monday with five places and discontinued its Covid-19 program for cruise ships.
The agency said on its website that it would continue to publish guidance for cruise ships, but its voluntary program for cruise ship monitoring ended effective on Monday.
In its separate list of Covid-19 travel notices, the South American countries of Colombia and Paraguay moved to the Level 3 “high” risk category along with Iraq in the Middle East and Kosovo and North Macedonia in the Balkans.
Level 3 became the top rung in terms of risk level in April after the CDC overhauled its ratings system for assessing Covid-19 risk for travelers.
The designation applies to places that have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. Level 2 and Level 1 are considered “moderate” and “low” risk, respectively.
Kosovo moved up two rungs this week from Level 1. The other four were previously listed as Level 2.
To recap, these five destinations received “high” risk designations on Monday:
• North Macedonia
There were about 115 destinations at Level 3 on July 18. Level 3 locations account for almost half of the roughly 235 places monitored by the CDC.
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. Under the new system, no destinations have been placed at Level 4 so far.
More on cruise ships
The CDC’s cruise ship color status page, which as of Friday listed most ships sailing in US waters as “highly vaccinated” and color-coded orange, has been removed.
The orange designation indicated that reported cases of Covid-19 on board had met the threshold for CDC investigation (0.3% or more of total passengers and/or crew). The color status system went from green to yellow to orange to red, with red status triggering additional Covid precautions.
The CDC said on its website that the color-coding system “depended upon each cruise line having the same Covid-19 screening testing standards, which may now vary among cruise lines. Therefore, the cruise ship color status webpage has been retired.”
The agency said it will continue to provide testing recommendations to cruise lines and that ships will still report Covid cases to the CDC. Passengers can contact cruise lines directly to find out about outbreaks on ships, the agency said.
The CDC said cruise lines have the tools and guidance to manage their own Covid mitigation.