The United States State Department will advise residents not to travel to fully 80% of the nations of the world due to their elevated coronavirus risk, according to a press notice released on Tuesday ahead of the official warning.
Due to the ravages of the third wave of coronavirus across much of the world — coupled with a slower vaccine rollout than the US, the UK and Israel — the US will caution travelers to stay away from all but three countries.
New Zealand, Macau and Taiwan are currently the only countries that the US authorities deem safe for American travelers. The three nations are at “Level One,” the designation given by the US State Department as the lowest level of caution, which advises travelers to “Exercise normal precautions.”
Third wave of the virus and variants pose most concern
In the note, released to the to the media ahead of the general update on travel guidance, the State Department said the pandemic continued to “pose unprecedented risks to travelers.”
The US’ “Do Not Travel” advisory at present covers 34 out of 200 countries in the world.
While Covid-19 has now taken more than three million lives worldwide, the third wave, fueled for the most part by several variants of the virus, still rages on, with the ages of those in ICUs and undergoing intubation lowering all the time.
Despite the desperate race to inoculate citizens the world over, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned this week that the world was “approaching the highest rate of infection” thus far.
The variants not only spread faster and more quickly than the original strain of the coronavirus, they appear to be more virulent as wells according to recent research.
One-half of Americans have had at least one dose
As of now, all citizens in the United States over the age of 16 are eligible for vaccination. Currently, approximately one-half of Americans have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.
The State department maintains that its decision to give a blanket update on its travel advisories was made to bring it in line with those made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
State Department officials say that the advisory “does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country.”
However, they admitted that it would “result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide”.
This would not actually preclude anyone from traveling to the countries in the Level Four category — travelers would simply be advised to reconsider before proceeding.
Will Greece be in Level Four?
The question of whether or not Greece will be in the highest level of concern, according to the State Department, is yet to be announced. Further guidance will be forthcoming for each country in the next several days, according to the State Department.
Even the UK, which embarked on a wildly successful, lightning-fast inoculation campaign rivaling that of Israel, is at Level Three – or “Reconsider travel” – with an extra warning to exercise caution because of the risk of terrorism that exists in Great Britain.
As of Tuesday, fully 10 million UK residents are now fully vaccinated, with 33 million having received one vaccination dose so far.
Currently, the CDC even recommends that all Americans refrain from traveling domestically until they are fully vaccinated — and continues to warn that international travel “poses additional risks” even for those who have been vaccinated.
At the present time, all air passengers coming into the US, including US citizens themselves, must undergo a Covid test or be able to provide documentation of recovery from the virus before they even board a flight home.
Just this week, Greece opened its doors to Americans, lifting the strictures for quarantine as long as travelers could prove that they were immune to the virus, had been vaccinated or proved negative for it.
As of this week, more than 860 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered to people in 165 countries around the world.
Brazil has recorded the third-highest number of cases and, at 368,749, the second-highest number of deaths in the world and currently has the highest death rate of anywhere on the globe.
Canada is now also reporting a steep rise in cases, with the province of Ontario, home to the Canadian capital of Ottawa, on a strict lockdown.