Through the most recent update regarding the Coronavirus situation of countries within the EU, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has revealed that the spread of the COVID-19 and its variants continue to be just as prevalent, though, in some particular areas, the situation is improving compared to the beginning of August.

In line with the figures published by ECDD today, September 9, only the following three countries and four regions, which have detected less than 50 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the last 14 days, are currently placed in the green category:

  • Czechia
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Region of Italy: Aosta
  • Region of Romania: Transylvania
  • Regions of Slovakia: Prešov and Košice

Consequently, this means that travel to these countries/regions is safe. In addition, in general, travellers from these countries and regions reaching the other EU Member States should not be subject to any entry restrictions. Still, it is up to each Member State to decide on its rules, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

On the other hand, more regions have been moved to the orange category compared to last week’s update since their COVID-19 situation has slightly improved.

Sweden is one of the countries that last week was mostly red, but since it has been registering fewer infection cases, the whole country is now coloured orange.

According to the updated maps of September 9, the following countries and regions are now part of the orange category:

  • Canary Islands
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Latvia
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Sweden
  • Half of Italy
  • Half of Norway
  • Regions of Austria: Carinthia, Styria, Lower Austria, Burgenland, Tyrol
  • Regions of France: Normandy, Pays de la Loire, Centre-Val de Loire
  • Region of Spain: Asturias
  • Romania, except for Transylvania

Travel to and from any of the above-mentioned countries and regions is not discouraged. However, unvaccinated and unrecovered travelleres may be subject to strict entry restrictions, and those who are vaccinated may be required to undergo testing requirements, depending on the rules of each country.

In contrast, ECDC has suggested that strict rules should apply to all areas placed in the red category since they have registered more than 200 Coronavirus infection cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the last two weeks.

Countries that have been listed as red on this week’s map are as follows:

  • Greece
  • Bulgaria
  • Liechtenstein
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Estonia
  • Lithuania
  • Cyprus
  • Slovenia
  • Regions of Norway

The Member States are advised to impose pre-departure test and self-isolation requirements against all persons arriving from the countries listed above.

“This should also apply to essential travellers provided that this does not have a disproportionate impact on the exercise of their function or need. Transport workers, however, should in principle be exempted from testing and quarantine/self-isolation requirements,” the EU Commission has advised.

>> Which EU Countries Permit Entry for Fully Vaccinated Travellers So Far

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union recommended Monday that its 27 nations reinstate restrictions on tourists from the U.S. because of rising coronavirus infections there, but member countries will keep the option of allowing fully vaccinated U.S. travelers in.

The decision by the European Council to remove the U.S. from a safe list of countries for nonessential travel reverses the advice that it gave in June, when the bloc recommended lifting restrictions on all U.S. travelers before the summer tourism season.

The EU’s decision reflects growing anxiety that the rampant spread of the virus in the U.S. could jump to Europe at a time when Americans are allowed to travel to the continent. Both the EU and the U.S. have faced rising infections this summer, driven by the more contagious delta variant.

The guidance issued Monday is nonbinding, however. American tourists should expect a mishmash of travel rules across the continent since the EU has no unified COVID-19 tourism policy and national EU governments have the authority to decide whether or how they keep their borders open during the pandemic.

More than 15 million Americans a year visited Europe before the coronavirus crisis, and new travel restrictions could cost European businesses billions in lost travel revenues, especially in tourism-reliant countries like Croatia, which has been surprised by packed beaches and hotels this summer.

“Nonessential travel to the EU from countries or entities not listed (on the safe list) … is subject to temporary travel restriction,” the council said in a statement. “This is without prejudice to the possibility for member states to lift the temporary restriction on nonessential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travelers.”

U.S. travelers would have to be immunized with one of the vaccines approved by the bloc, which includes Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson&Johnson.

Possible restrictions on U.S. travelers could include quarantines, further testing requirements upon arrival or even a total ban on all nonessential travel from the U.S.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stressed Monday that the EU travel restrictions applied to the unvaccinated, adding that “the fastest path to reopening travel is for people to get vaccinated, to mask up and slow the spread of the deadly virus.”

Paski told reporters that the U.S. government is working across federal agencies to develop its own policy for international travel, with the possibility of strengthening testing protocols and potentially ensuring that foreign visitors are fully vaccinated. But she said no final decision has been made yet.

The EU recommendation doesn’t apply to Britain, which formally left the EU at the beginning of the year and opened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. earlier this month.

The United States remains on Britain’s “amber” travel list, meaning that fully vaccinated adults arriving from the U.S. to the U.K. don’t have to self-isolate. A negative COVID-19 test within three days before arriving in the U.K. is required and another negative test is needed two days after arriving.

The EU also removed Israel,

(CNN) — The European Union recommended on Monday that Americans should be banned from nonessential travel to its member states after a rise in Covid-19 cases in the United States.

Countries within the 27-nation bloc, which includes France, Italy and Germany, have been advised to reinstate coronavirus-related restrictions and halt the arrival of tourists from the US and five other countries.

The guidance, which also now applies to Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and the Republic of North Macedonia, is non-binding for EU member states. That means it remains up to each individual EU country to decide whether to allow “nonessential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travelers.”

Europe had begun opening up to US travelers in May with destinations dependent on tourism dollars from across the Atlantic eager to recoup heavy losses incurred during successive lockdowns.

The European Council, the EU’s governing body, recommended in June that the bloc lift restrictions on nonessential travel from 14 countries, including the United States.

However, Covid-19 cases in the US have surged in recent weeks, as the highly infectious Delta variant spreads among unvaccinated Americans. Covid-19 cases among children are also hitting levels not seen since winter.

“What is going on now is both entirely predictable, but entirely preventable. And you know we know we have the wherewithal with vaccines to turn this around,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious diseases expert. “We could turn this around and we could do it efficiently and quickly if we just get those people vaccinated.”

Nationally, 52.1% of the population was fully vaccinated as of Saturday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Florida on Saturday had the highest Covid-19 hospitalization rate in the country, with 75 patients per 100,000 residents in hospitals with the virus, according to data from federal health officials and Johns Hopkins University. It also reached yet another pandemic high of Covid-19 cases Friday, reporting 690.5 new cases per 100,000 people each day from August 20 to August 26, state data showed.

Fewer than 50% of people in South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas are fully vaccinated. Studies have shown that full vaccination is necessary for optimal protection against the Delta variant.

Several hospitals in those four states — Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana — are struggling with oxygen scarcity. Some are at risk of having to use their reserve supply or risk running out of oxygen imminently, according to state health officials and hospital consultants.

CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne and Barry Neild contributed to this story.

Despite a shocker run of lockdowns and Delta outbreaks, vaccination rates are ramping up across the country, and Aussies are getting pretty excited about the thought of international travel returning to normal.

Just last week, national carrier Qantas defiantly announced plans to kickstart international travel as soon as Christmas, with CEO Alan Joyce describing trading as “diabolical”.

RELATED: Aussies are losing it over Qantas’ new vaccination ad

First on the struggling airline’s hit-list are countries with high COVID-19 vaccination rates, with Singapore leading the short tally of eligible nations.

So far, Australia has only been able to successfully open a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand, although borders remain closed at the time of writing due to concerns over growing COVID-19 cases at home.

READ MORE: Qantas offers free points, flight vouchers, for fully vaccinated Australians

But with Singapore likely to be the next bubble on the cards, what will a travel pact with the sovereign nation look like?

Here’s everything you need to know about planning a trip to Singapore, and how the travel bubble will work when it opens.

SINGAPORE (9)
Singapore has been named as the most COVID-resilient country, taking out New Zealand who formerly had the top spot. (Getty)

When will Singapore be open to Australians?

Qantas is looking to open up travel by mid-December, 2021.

The Australian government is currently in talks to open up a travel bubble between Australia and Singapore, though there is no official date set yet. This bubble would allow residents from both countries to travel between the two without any mandatory quarantine.

Singapore has now vaccinated 80 per cent of the population against COVID-19, according to recent figures, making them a prime candidate once Australia can match their efforts on the jab front.

What countries are in the Singapore travel bubble?

Australia is currently deemed a ‘category two’ nation by the Singapore government, which means that you can at least, in theory, enter if you commit to undergoing a seven-day stay-home notice at your accommodation of choice.

RELATED: Tourism Australia’s new campaign isn’t about travel — it’s about vaccination

Of course, Australia will be looking to upgrade to a ‘category one’ once an acceptable level of vaccinations has been achieved, joining the likes of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China (excluding Jiangsu province), Macao, New Zealand and Taiwan. These nations currently aren’t required to quarantine, but do need to complete an on-arrival COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. If the test is negative, travellers are free to holiday and go where they please.

While it’s unlikely our government will open the floodgates to all of the destinations listed above in one hit, they could all form part of our bubble in the later stages of reopening international travel.

Do I have to be vaccinated to enter Singapore?

Yes. There’s no doubt about it now. The privilege of international travel will demand you get the jab prior to boarding a flight, with many local carriers taking a hardline stance on the matter.

The EU is reportedly in the process of taking the U.S. off its safe travel list, meaning that American travelers coming into the bloc (plus Schengen-area countries) will face more restrictive measures such as quarantine and increased testing.

Diplomats told Reuters that the U.S. would be removed from the list along with Kosovo, Israel, Montenegro, Lebanon and North Macedonia, because all were facing Covid-19 infection rates that are higher than the allowed daily infection rate to be included on the safe list.

In order to stay on this list, countries must have no more than 75 new Covid-19 cases daily per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days. In June, this was the case for the U.S. when it made it onto the list but this week, that figure has risen to 507 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, as reported by Bloomberg.

Should no country object, the new list would be made final on Monday. EU countries are not obligated to follow EU-wide decisions and can also bring in their own policies (as is currently the case across the 27 EU countries).

The EU safe list currently includes Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Montenegro, New Zealand, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Republic of North Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Ukraine and the U.S.

The news is likely to be a further blow to the travel industry, which has seen a healthy rebound since Americans were approved to come to the EU in June.

The traffic is still one way, as the U.S. travel ban is still in place–several airlines are reportedly in the process of pushing back the restart of transatlantic flights until mid-September, with some fearing a Thanksgiving reopening of U.S. borders for EU and U.K. travelers.

American travelers in Europe may soon face additional Covid-related restrictions such as quarantines and testing requirements. The European Union has already begun the procedure to remove the United States and five other countries from its “safe travel” list, reports Reuters.

Travelers from countries on the safe list can visit E.U. countries without quarantining by showing only a recent negative test result, while travelers from other countries are discouraged from visiting for non-essential reasons. However as the “safe list” is non-binding, American travelers would not automatically be barred from entry to E.U. countries. The last word will come from each individual E.U. country, which has the authority to impose their own restrictions. In other words, it’s going to be a messy patchwork of different rules and regulations across the continent.

The change to the so-called “safe list” could become official as soon as Monday. The other countries on the chopping block include Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and North Macedonia.

The E.U.’s safe list includes countries outside the 27-member block that are considered safe amid the Coronavirus pandemic due to the low rates of infections. The list is updated periodically based on the latest coronavirus developments in each country.

The threshold for being on the “safe travel” list is having fewer than 75 new Covid-19 cases daily per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days. Currently the United States has an infection rate roughly seven times above that threshold.

The picture looked rosier for the U.S. when it was added to the list of safe countries in mid-June. At that time, the vaccination rollout was well underway in the United States, and the number of new daily Covid cases was declining. But now, as the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to sweep across America, Covid levels are back to what they were in January.

In early August, when the infection rate in the U.S. was half as high as it is currently — but still well over the “safe travel” threshold — the bloc discussed curbing U.S. travelers, but decided to keep the status quo.

Last Thursday, the E.U. member countries again debated whether to reimpose limits on U.S. tourists. This time around, European nations reportedly concluded that the U.S. is not able to remain on the list.

Hawaii’s Governor David Ige has been criticized for insisting that the state’s Safe Travels program remain in effect until at least 70 percent of Hawaii’s population has been inoculated against COVID-19. Since COVID-19 vaccines aren’t approved for use in kids under age 12, that benchmark actually translates to something more like 82 percent of the residents who are eligible for vaccination.

While that bar might’ve already seemed difficult to reach, two Hawaii epidemiologists believe that even achieving those vaccination numbers won’t be enough to stop the spread of the highly communicable Delta variant. They opine that the state needs to continue the Safe Travels program, which now represents the country’s toughest set of traveler entry requirements, even longer.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

“No, I don’t believe that’s a safe benchmark anymore,” said Dr. Tim Brown, an infectious disease modeler and senior fellow at the East-West Center, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser. “It actually would have been a safe benchmark probably for the virus last year. It was low enough, effectively, at that point. The problem is, the more infectious the virus is, the higher the level of protection needed to reach so-called herd immunity.”

Dr. DeWolfe Miller, University of Hawaii emeritus professor and fellow in the American College of Epidemiology agrees. In fact, were the decision left up to Drs. Brown and Miller, no one who isn’t fully vaccinated would be allowed to board a plane bound for Hawaii, though that’s not a demand that states are allowed to make.

“We need to take every effort to crush this right here or we are just playing Russian roulette,” Miller said. “Right now, I don’t think that I’ve ever been so concerned. The safest, most conservative policy would be 100 percent vaccinated—that’s not epidemiological, it’s common sense. All the rest (of the public safety policies) are just workarounds.”

The epidemiologists consider the COVID-19 landscape in America now changed, due to the dominance of the virus’ highly transmissible Delta variant, which is being credited with causing the rising number of cases in Hawaii and on the U.S. mainland. Case counts on the islands have spiked severely since the busy Fourth of July holiday, with Saturday having been the tenth consecutive day where new case counts reached triple digits.


David Ige, Governor of Hawaii.
David Ige, Governor of Hawaii. (Photo via Flickr/Governor David Y. Ige)

“The seven-day average of new cases went vertical this week,” Brown said. “Most of the rest of the U.S. is going vertical too.”

The fact that there’s been a sharp drop-off in the state’s vaccination rates in recent months isn’t helping the situation. The Department of Health’s last reported data shows that 59.6 percent of Hawaiians are fully vaccinated thus far.

The state’s Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, also an emergency room physician, shares the scientists’ concerns. He said that approximately 22 percent of the new COVID-19 cases that arose in Hawaii this month have been related to out-of-state travel.

“It’s highly likely that Safe Travels will be left in

FRIDAY, July 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) — If you’re hitting the road with your infant this summer, you need to ensure your child’s safety and comfort, a pediatric expert says.

First, check your car safety seat to make sure it’s installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It needs to be rear-facing and at the correct angle to prevent your infant’s head from slumping and potentially blocking the airway, Dr. Dina DiMaggio said.

You also need to be sure the five-point harness system is correctly adjusted and pulled snug to your baby at all times while riding in the car, said DiMaggio, a pediatrician affiliated with NYU Langone Health in New York City.

Here are some other suggestions:

“It is always best to have an adult or responsible older child in the backseat with your baby to easily take care of their needs during the trip. This can help your baby stay on a schedule as much as possible,” DiMaggio said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release.

“It allows you to feed them at their usual times, change diapers when needed, play with them, and keep an eye out for other issues such as car sickness. Being right by their side to sing, read, or even massage them, will help avoid tears and make for a smoother journey,” she added.

Unlike your pre-parent days, you may need to make more frequent stops.

It’s important for you and your baby to get out of the car every two to three hours on a day trip and every four to six hours at night to change diapers or soiled clothes, or to feed your baby. Never breastfeed in a moving car, DiMaggio warned.

“Before hitting the road, be prepared and know where gas stations and rest stops are on the way. In case you decide you need a longer break, it’s a good idea to know where baby-friendly hotels are located. If you aren’t sure there will be a safe sleep space at your destination, bring a bassinet or portable play yard with you, since it’s not safe for your baby to sleep in the car seat once you arrive,” she said.

If it’s just you and your baby on the trip, never leave your infant unattended in the car, even briefly. Children can suffer heat stroke very quickly in hot cars.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more travel safety tips.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, July 20, 2021

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

FRIDAY, July 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) — If you’re hitting the road with your infant this summer, you need to ensure your child’s safety and comfort, a pediatric expert says.

First, check your car safety seat to make sure it’s installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It needs to be rear-facing and at the correct angle to prevent your infant’s head from slumping and potentially blocking the airway, Dr. Dina DiMaggio said.

You also need to be sure the five-point harness system is correctly adjusted and pulled snug to your baby at all times while riding in the car, said DiMaggio, a pediatrician affiliated with NYU Langone Health in New York City.

Here are some other suggestions:

“It is always best to have an adult or responsible older child in the backseat with your baby to easily take care of their needs during the trip. This can help your baby stay on a schedule as much as possible,” DiMaggio said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release.

“It allows you to feed them at their usual times, change diapers when needed, play with them, and keep an eye out for other issues such as car sickness. Being right by their side to sing, read, or even massage them, will help avoid tears and make for a smoother journey,” she added.

Unlike your pre-parent days, you may need to make more frequent stops.

It’s important for you and your baby to get out of the car every two to three hours on a day trip and every four to six hours at night to change diapers or soiled clothes, or to feed your baby. Never breastfeed in a moving car, DiMaggio warned.

“Before hitting the road, be prepared and know where gas stations and rest stops are on the way. In case you decide you need a longer break, it’s a good idea to know where baby-friendly hotels are located. If you aren’t sure there will be a safe sleep space at your destination, bring a bassinet or portable play yard with you, since it’s not safe for your baby to sleep in the car seat once you arrive,” she said.

If it’s just you and your baby on the trip, never leave your infant unattended in the car, even briefly. Children can suffer heat stroke very quickly in hot cars.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, July 20, 2021

Copyright © 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Transpacific travel is about to get a little easier for mainland visitors. Starting Thursday, July 8, the Safe Travels Program will allow those with proof of vaccination to skip testing as well as mandatory quarantine.

The modification allows travelers fully vaccinated within the U.S. to travel to Hawaii without taking a COVID test. Some are worried loosening restrictions will negatively impact the state while others said, ‘It’s about time.’

Hawaii’s Safe Travels special projects administrator Sheri Kajiwara said travelers now have two options to bypass the mandatory quarantine requirement.

“That’s really going to be a game-changer,” Kajiwara explained. “Because people have been having trouble finding locations to test and this will eliminate all of that.”

There has been no change to international travel to Hawaii. Those travelers must first meet the CDC requirements to enter the U.S., then meet the State domestic travel requirements.

Travelers still need to create a Safe Travels account and are urged to upload their proof of vaccination prior to arrival to speed up the screening process.

“The biggest problem we see is people not coming with the right document. And the biggest challenge we see is they’re not loading it up and completing the process before screening,” she said.

Visitors also need to bring a hard copy with them.

Letters from the doctor will not be accepted as a quarantine exemption.

Only three documents will be accepted: The official CDC vaccination record card, a VAMS printout (if you lost your original vaccination card), or use your vaccination administration record if you’re in the military.

“Children under the age of five do not need to meet quarantine requirements testing requirements, and of course no vaccination requirements,” Kajiwara said.

Children five and older must provide a negative pre-test to bypass quarantine, however, and those 12 and over have the option to show proof of vaccination.

The new rules could cause an influx of travelers.

“Travel will probably increase. A lot of people are very anxious to get out and travel and Hawaii is, I think, one of the top three destinations that are safe,” Kajiwara explained.

According to the Safe Travels digital database, there are currently more than 32,719 registered trips for Thursday, slightly less than Wednesday, July 7, which had 34,405 registered trips. Travelers have until their flight departs to register so the number could increase.

Lynn Arcenal-Chan, who travels to Hawaii to visit family often, said she thinks the state should not have changed the pre-travel test requirement.

“I think it’s gonna be really crowded everywhere because Waikiki was crowded,” Arcenal-Chan said.

Hawaii Kai resident Chris Doyle was eager for the change.

“It’s good for local families to get back in touch because we have so many of our family and friends that are on the continent,” Doyle said.

According to Kajiwara, the Sate will likely make additional modifications