U.S. travelers have been jet-setting around the world this summer, after largely being unable to travel for more than a year. But if you’re planning a last-minute island vacation somewhere warm as summer transitions to fall, know that the Delta variant is not only causing an uptick in the contiguous U.S. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) placed some popular vacation destinations on its top-tier list for places to avoid traveling right now because of COVID, including Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. And now, more beloved island destinations have been added to the list.
On Sept. 13, the CDC added three new islands to its top risk level: Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Mauritius, per CNN. These islands, which have all been placed in the “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High” tier, should now be avoided by U.S. travelers.
According to the CDC, risk level is based on recently reported cases and a destination is moved to Level 4 when there have been more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents recorded in the past 28 days. “Avoid travel to these destinations,” the health agency advises. “If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.”
The Caribbean island of Grenada has had more than a 50 percent increase in infections over the last week, with more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 people during that time, per Reuters. Saint Kitts and Nevis, which is also in the Caribbean, has seen nearly a 14 percent increase in infections over the last week, with its highest daily average of cases overall being reported on Sept. 10. And over in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is currently experiencing a drop in cases after its peak on Aug. 29 of more than 1,100 cases, but infection numbers are still in the 200 to 300-range every day.
Meanwhile, vaccinations are low in Grenada. This Caribbean island has only administered a little more than 48,000 doses, which means it has fully vaccinated less than 18 percent of its total population, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
The CDC also added some non-island destinations to its top risk level on Sept. 13. Afghanistan, Albania, Belize, Lithuania, Serbia, and Slovenia all top the list now as well, so they should be avoided by travelers from the U.S. On the other hand, Brazil was lowered by the CDC from Level 4 to Level 3, per Reuters.
In terms of more new Level 3 destinations, which applies to any country that has had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, Australia, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Romania have all moved up to this level. The CDC warns against unvaccinated travelers going to Level 3 destinations for nonessential travel reasons, and again, asks that travelers be fully vaccinated before going to these destinations.
“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 health agency explains.