As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases in numerous places worldwide, it has added four more destinations to its “very high” travel risk list at the start of this week.

New Level 4 Destinations

On Monday, the public health agency officially added Dominica, Jersey, Montenegro and Turkey to its Level 4: Very High travel risk list. This means all four places have recorded a surge in transmissions in the past month.

Turkey and Montenegro were previously under the Level 3: COVID-19 High list while the Caribbean island of Dominica was formerly considered a low-risk, Level-1 destination. Even more surprising was the inclusion of Jersey in the Very High category after the British Crown dependency was previously listed as having a “COVID-19 Unknown” level by the CDC.

The latest figures presented by the Island of Jersey’s government indicated that the self-governing nation has recorded 425 active cases and 74 deaths. The 14-day rate per 100,000 population report of the government also suggested that the country has been witnessing a decline in recent weeks.

Understanding The Level 4 Category

When a destination is listed under the Level 4: Very High category, travelers are advised to avoid visiting it. Only those who have been fully vaccinated are safe to travel to Very High-level locations. However, the CDC clarified that even with the vaccine, travelers are still at risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 variants when they visit the Level 4 places.

If one must travel to Dominica, Jersey, Montenegro or Turkey any time this week due to a very important matter, the agency said it would be a must for them to strictly adhere to their destination’s safety recommendations and requirements, such as wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing.

The CDC also stipulated in its guidelines that travelers should cover their nose and mouth properly with a face mask when riding planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation. For indoor transportation hubs like airports and stations, the wearing of face coverings is also necessary to prevent the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

CDC’s Risk Assessment System Explained

The risk assessment system used by the CDC classifies places into five categories: Level Unknown: COVID-19 Unknown, Level 1: COVID-19 Low, Level 2: COVID-19 Moderate, Level 3: COVID-19 High and Level 4: COVID-19 Very High. Out of the five, the CDC advises to avoid traveling to Level Unknown and Level 4 destinations.

For a territory to be classified in any of the levels, the CDC looks into the incidence rate of COVID-19 that covers new cases reported over the past 28 days per 100,000 population. If the destination has reported fewer than 50 cases in the past 28 days per 100,000 population, it will belong to Level 1: COVID-19 Low. For places with more than 500 new cases in the same period, they will be classified under Level 4: Very High.

When it comes to the Travel Health Notices it issues to alert travelers, the CDC combines both incidence rate and testing data. Population testing rates of more than 1,500 tests per 100,000 individuals over a 28-day period are considered enough in determining the accurate representation of the prevalence of COVID-19 in a destination, according to the agency.

“Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants,” the CDC said in its International Travel Guidance update in June.