The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department raised their travel alert levels Monday for the Caribbean travel spots of Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Belize due to the “risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.”

The CDC raised both dual-island nation Saint Kitts and Nevis and Belize to a level 4, which signifies “very high” COVID levels and means tourists should avoid travel to the popular Caribbean vacation destinations.

Those who must travel to either destination, the CDC travel health notice says, should be fully vaccinated. Aside from following each country’s specific guidance, CDC recommends travelers wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart from others.

►Visiting Maui this fall? Forget about indoor dining at restaurants, bars unless you’re vaccinated.

►Which EU countries are open to US tourists?:A breakdown of EU travel restrictions by country

The CDC also raised several countries’ travel alert to a levels 4, including: 

  • Slovenia
  • Serbia
  • Mauritius
  • Lithuania
  • Israel
  • Grenada
  • Albania
  • Afghanistan

The agency raised the alert levels last week for Jamaica, Sri Lanka and Brunei to level 4.

The CDC assesses COVID-19 risk based on each destination’s new cases and new case trajectory. The Travel Health Notice level can be raised if a large increase in COVID-19 cases is reported or a destination’s case count meets or exceeds the threshold for a higher level for 14 straight days. Level 4 destinations have more than 500 new cases per 100,000 people over the past 28 days or more than 500 cases period if their population is smaller than 100,000.

Contributing: Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cautioned Americans not to travel to Jamaica, Lebanon, or Sri Lanka amid a rise in the number of COVID-19 delta variant cases.

The CDC increased travel advisories on Tuesday to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” for those countries, indicating they have “a very high level of COVID-19 in the country.”

The health warning cautions potential travelers that “health risks are present, including current disease outbreaks or crises that disrupt a country’s medical infrastructure.”

COVID-19 VARIANT MU DETECTED IN 49 STATES

Similar coronavirus travel warnings were updated to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” for Anguilla, Australia, Brunei, Ghana, Grenada, Madagascar, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Despite the prominence of the delta variant coronavirus—which has become the mainstream variant of the virus—and growing levels of the mu variant, travel advisories have reportedly been eased for travel to the Netherlands, Malta, Guinea-Bissau, and the United Arab Emirates.

JAMAICA - JANUARY 27, 2020: Passengers at Norman Manley International Airport. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images)

JAMAICA – JANUARY 27, 2020: Passengers at Norman Manley International Airport. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images)
( Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the CDC also increased the travel advisory for Nicaragua to a “Level 4” but did so for socio-political reasons that are not coronavirus-related.

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The nation’s health protection agency continues to recommend people not to travel internationally until they are fully vaccinated as “international travel poses additional risks.” This includes an “increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants.”

All international travelers should continue to wear personal face masks on public transportation, per the travel guidelines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. State Department raised their travel alert levels for Jamaica due to the number of COVID-19 cases and other factors.

The CDC on Tuesday raised Jamaica to a level 4, which signifies “very high” COVID levels and means travelers should avoid travel to the popular Caribbean vacation destination. Those who must travel to Jamaica, the CDC travel health notice says, should be be fully vaccinated.

The State Department on Tuesday raised its travel advisory for Jamaica to level 4, which means do not travel, due to COVID cases and crime in certain areas of Kingston, Montego Bay and Spanish Town.

►International travel:European Union countries tightening COVID-19 restrictions for US tourists

►Travel test:Here’s what travelers should know about at-home COVID-19 tests

Plenty of other vacation destinations are rated level 4 by the CDC, including the Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands, France and the United Kingdom.

The CDC raised the alert levels last week for Puerto Rico, Guam, Saint Lucia and Switzerland to Guam, among other destinations, to level 4.

The CDC assesses COVID-19 risk based on each destination’s new cases and new case trajectory. The Travel Health Notice level can be raised if a large increase in COVID-19 cases is reported or a destination’s case count meets or exceeds the threshold for a higher level for 14 straight days. Level 4 destinations have more than 500 new cases per 100,000 people over the past 28 days or more than 500 cases period if their population is smaller than 100,000.

Contributing: Eve Chen, USA TODAY 

A general view of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

WASHINGTON, Sept 7 (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday warned against travel to Sri Lanka, Jamaica and Brunei because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

The CDC raised its travel advisory to “Level 4: Very High” for those countries, telling Americans they should avoid travel there.

The CDC also eased its ratings for the Netherlands, Malta, Guinea-Bissau and United Arab Emirates from “Level 4: Very High” to “Level 3: High,” which urges unvaccinated Americans to avoid travel to those destinations.

The CDC also raised Australia from “Leve1 1: Low” to “Level 2: Moderate.”

In addition, the CDC raised its advisory level for Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Benin, Ghana, Grenada, Turks and Caicos Islands to “Level 3.”

The CDC issues travel recommendations by countries and for U.S. territories but does not list recommendations for individual U.S. states. It currently lists about 80 destinations out of around 200 ranked as “Level 4,” including some U.S. territories.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Dan Grebler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

(CNN) — Two tropical islands half a world apart and popular with tourists — Jamaica in the Caribbean and Sri Lanka in South Asia — are now among the highest-risk destinations for travelers.

That’s according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel advisories list, which was updated on Tuesday.

Also joining the bulging highest-risk list during a global swell of Delta variant cases is the isolated nation of Brunei on the island of Borneo.

People should avoid traveling to locations designated with the “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High” notice, the CDC recommends. Anyone who must travel should be fully vaccinated first, the agency advises.

How the CDC ranks nations

An aerial view of Kingston, Jamaica. The popular Caribbean island has been hit with a surge of Covid-19 cases recently.

An aerial view of Kingston, Jamaica. The popular Caribbean island has been hit with a surge of Covid-19 cases recently.

Valery Sharifulin/TASS/Getty Images

The CDC’s evolving list of travel notices ranges from Level 1 (“low”) to Level 4 (“very high”).

Destinations that fall into the “Covid-19 Very High” Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC criteria. The Level 3 category applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

Jamaica’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign has had low numbers so far, with only 19 doses given per 100 people as of Tuesday. It has been in a series of curfews since late August with “no-movement” days in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread.
Sri Lanka has seen a swell in cases recently despite having one of Asia’s stronger vaccination campaigns, with 102 doses administered per 100 people as of Tuesday. By comparison, its much larger neighbor India has only given 49 doses per 100 people.

Other popular destinations on Level 4

A view of the Peloponnese in Greece, which is at the CDC's highest risk level.

A view of the Peloponnese in Greece, which is at the CDC’s highest risk level.

Suzanne Plunkett/CNN

Some of the most visited vacation spots around the world occupy a spot on the CDC’s Level 4 list. That includes Covid-ravaged Brazil, which has occupied a spot there for months. Other popular nations currently considered the highest risk include:

— The Bahamas
— Costa Rica
— France
— Greece
— Iceland
— Ireland
— Malaysia
— Portugal
— South Africa
— Spain
— Thailand
— Turkey
— United Kingdom.

You may click here to see all Level 4 nations, plus the other three levels as well.

Level 3: High risk

Also on Tuesday, 10 nations were newly assigned to the CDC’s “Level 3: Covid-19 High” category. A big mover popular with the luxury travel set was the little Caribbean resort island of Anguilla.

It had been at “Level 1: Low” and had maintained strict protocols on arriving tourists throughout the pandemic. Visitors must be fully vaccinated to enter and still must take a Covid-19 test and quarantine.

The other places moved up to Level 3 on Tuesday were:

— Antigua and Barbuda (up from Level 2)
— Benin (up from Level 1)
— Ghana (up from Level

Puerto Rico and Switzerland are among seven destinations added to a growing list of places that travelers should avoid because of high levels of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.

Switzerland and Puerto Rico were joined on the list by Guam, Estonia, Saint Lucia, Azerbaijan, and North Macedonia. They have been labeled as “Level 4: Very High-Risk” destinations by the CDC.

The health organization also added 10 countries to “Level 3: High Risk,” including Canada, Germany, Bermuda, and Moldova — which moved up from Level 2 — and Bahrain, Indonesia, Oman, Namibia, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe, which moved down from Level 4.

Destinations that fall into the Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 4 weeks, making them a very high-risk territory. The CDC says travelers should avoid those destinations and only go if they are fully vaccinated. But even that comes with a warning.

“Even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” the CDC says.

White House press secretary Jen Paski stressed Monday that all travel restrictions apply primarily to the unvaccinated.

“The fastest path to reopening travel is for people to get vaccinated, mask up, and slow the spread of the deadly virus,” Paski said.

The CDC now has 81 destinations listed at Level 4, including popular locations such as France, Spain, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Greece, Thailand, and Iceland. It also includes most of the Caribbean, including the Bahamas, Martinique, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Saint Martin.

Meanwhile, the CDC is urging any American who is not vaccinated to stay home over Labor Day weekend.

“Given where we are with disease transmission right now, we would say that people need to take these risks into their own consideration as they think about travel,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said. “If you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling.”

The United States is averaging about 130,000 new cases per day, and hospitals all across the country are being overrun with new patients. ICUs in many states have run out of beds.

Walensky said any gatherings over Labor Day weekend should be held outdoors, if possible, and to mask up when indoors.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen that the vast majority of transmission takes place among unvaccinated people in closed, indoor settings,” Walensky said. “Masks are not forever, but they are for now.”

The director of the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention this week asked Americans who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to stay home during the Labor Day holiday weekend.

“First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a news briefing on Tuesday.

Walensky said people who are fully vaccinated should still take precautions. The CDC says of those eligible for vaccines, 38.5% are not fully vaccinated. It recommends travelers get tested 1-3 days before traveling, and another 3-5 days after traveling.

For those who are traveling, gas prices have been on the rise ahead of the Labor Day Weekend, according to AAA. Louisiana and other parts of the Gulf Coast, which were hit by the massive hurricane, play a major role in oil production.

“Drivers will almost assuredly see gas prices rise this week, because of Hurricane Ida’s effects on the Gulf Coast,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in a statement Monday. “Based on overnight movement in the futures market, a 10- to 20-cent jump at the pump is not out of the question. Where gas prices go from here will depend on the extent of the damage and how long it will take for fuel production and transportation lines to return to normal.”

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Florida’s average gas prices have declined during the past three weeks and were at $2.95 a gallon Sunday for regular unleaded. That was down 3 cents a gallon from the previous week.

April Smith was visiting from Michigan.

“We came here because it’s my husband’s birthday the day after Labor Day, and he’s never seen the ocean,” Smith said.

She said they made a 16-hour drive to Jacksonville Beach and that she and her husband have both been vaccinated.

Mark Harris is local to the Jacksonville Beach area and said he’s welcoming the visitors.

“I’m a big believe in live your life, do it the way you wanna do it,” Harris said. “If people come here and have a good time and travel, so be it.”

Another group of people flew in from Indianapolis for a bachelor party. All said they were vaccinated and are taking precautions.

Traffic at Florida’s busiest airport — Orlando — is forecast to exceed pre-pandemic crowds. Officials at Orlando International Airport said Wednesday that this Labor Day weekend they are expecting more than 303,000 departures, a 7% increase above Labor Day weekend in 2019.

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The official holiday travel period started Thursday and ends next Tuesday.

The busiest travel day of the holiday weekend is expected to be on Saturday when Orlando International Airport is forecast to have more than 53,000 departures.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans to reconsider their Labor Day travel plans, particularly if they aren’t vaccinated, amid one of the worst COVID-19 surges of the pandemic.

“First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing Tuesday.

The CDC recommends people who aren’t fully vaccinated hold off on traveling “because travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.” Additionally, anyone who is sick with coronavirus symptoms is urged to stay home, even if they’ve been vaccinated.

The CDC has said fully vaccinated Americans can travel while wearing face masks.

“Although given where we are with disease transmission right now, we would say that people need to take … these risks into their own consideration as they think about traveling,” Walensky said.

►Safety first:What you need to celebrate Labor Day weekend safely amid delta variant concerns

►Latest COVID-19 updates:Hospitals prepare for another oxygen shortage

Nearly 4.22 million new COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. in August, as the highly contagious delta variant rapidly spread, according to USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. Florida and Hawaii were among states reporting their worst month of cases ever.

Across the nation, there were 26,805 COVID-19 deaths, with more deaths reported the last week of August than in the entire month of July, the analysis shows.

“As people across the country prepare for Labor Day weekend, it’s critical that being vaccinated is part of their pre-holiday checklist,” said Jeff Zients, White House COVID-⁠19 Response coordinator. 

The CDC’s travel recommendations apply to both domestic and international trips. Additionally, the CDC and State Department have identified destinations Americans should avoid visiting. This week, those recommendations included reconsidering travel to Canada and avoiding travel to Puerto Rico, due to COVID risks. 

►C.1.2 variant has concerning mutations:Experts say Americans shouldn’t panic

Contributing: Mike Stucka, Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention increased travel advisories to Canada on Monday, advising Americans to “reconsider” travel plans into the country amid a spike in COVID-19.

The State Department said Monday that on the advice of the CDC, it had re-categorized travel advisories from Level 2 — “exercise increased caution” — to Level 3 — “reconsider travel” — due to “a high level of COVID-19 in the country.”

Canada has seen an increase in cases as the more contagious delta variant spreads throughout the country. According to Johns Hopkins, case rates have increased from a low of about 2,500 a day at the end of July to a current total of about 21,000.

By comparison, the U.S. currently has a seven-day average of about 42,000 cases a day, a number that appears to be falling.

Canada reports that it has fully vaccinated 65% of its total population, while the U.S. has fully vaccinated 52% of its population.

The move comes less than three weeks after the U.S. lowered travel advisories to Level 2. That came a day after Canada opened its border with the U.S. for non-essential travel for some vaccinated Americans. It marked the first time since the start of the pandemic that Canada had allowed non-essential travel from Americans.

The U.S. has kept its restrictions on non-essential travel through its borders in place since the start of the pandemic. Those restrictions will remain in place until at least Sept. 21.

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The US is surpassing an average of 160,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. With the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant and many students returning to the classroom for a new academic year, the rise is concerning officials and health experts.

“First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing on Tuesday.

Walensky said that while people who are fully vaccinated can travel with precautions, current transmission rates mean they too need to take Covid-19 risk into consideration when deciding whether or not to travel.

Health experts have said that vaccination is the best way to protect against the virus’ spread, and many have attributed the spike in cases to the large portion of Americans who are unvaccinated.

Of those eligible for vaccinations, which includes Americans 12-years-old and older, 38.6% are not yet fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC.

This week, data presented by a CDC vaccine adviser showed a hospitalization rate 16 times greater in the unvaccinated population than in those vaccinated. And the surge in hospitalizations, particularly among unvaccinated people, has stretched hospitals thin.

In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little said the state has reached a point in the pandemic “we have not seen before” with more Idahoans in the ICUs than ever before. He stressed multiple times that the “vast majority” are unvaccinated.

“Yesterday evening I toured a nearly full ICU wing in Boise. What I saw was heartbreaking,” he said Tuesday. “Some were young, two were middle-aged, two patients were pregnant… All of them were struggling to breathe and most were only breathing with help from a machine.”

He said medical staff are “exhausted,” so the state is adding up to 370 additional personnel to help.

A new case study published Tuesday illustrated the impact of gatherings of large groups of unvaccinated people.

In June, attendees met for a five-day overnight church camp and a two-day men’s conference in Illinois, neither of which required vaccination, testing or masks. By August, 180 Covid-19 cases were connected to the events, including five hospitalizations, according to the investigation, conducted by the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

A healthcare worker at a 24-hour drive-thru site set up by Miami-Dade and Nomi Health in Tropical Park administers a Covid-19 test on Monday in Miami, Florida.

More than 200,000 kids test positive in a week

Concern is growing over infections in children, many of whom don’t have access to the vaccine yet.

And those who are eligible are not reaping the full benefits. Children ages 12 to 15 are eligible but less then half of that group is vaccinated with at least one dose, according to data published Monday by the CDC.

The result has been cases in children increasing “exponentially,” the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday.

More than 200,000 children tested positive for Covid-19 in the last week, a five-fold increase from a month ago, the AAP said. And rates of hospitalizations have risen with the cases.

Between August 20 and 26, an average of 330 children