The federal health agency now lists 84 countries as “Level 4: Very High,” including most of Europe. Generally, the CDC names a destination as Level 4 when there are more than 500 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past month.
Italy and Mauritius were also added by the Department of State to its own “Level Four: Do Not Travel” list.
Italy reported 98 COVID-19-related deaths on Monday against 66 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 12,712 from 19,215. Italy historically has been one of the top foreign tourist destinations for Americans.
Meanwhile, the United States imposed new travel restrictions on Dec. 6 that require fully vaccinated international travelers to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of travel.
Days before that, the federal government barred nearly all foreign nationals from entering the United States from eight southern African countries such as South Africa due to the Omicron variant. So far, only one Omicron-related death has been reported worldwide after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement Monday confirming one death in his country.
World Health Organization officials have said that the variant appears to be fast-spreading, but other officials have suggested Omicron may not lead to more severe disease than other strains, including Delta.
Despite Omicron apparently showing milder symptoms, UK and European officials are now scrambling to implement new lockdowns and other measures, while the governors of California and New York reimposed mask mandates for all indoor businesses in their respective states. Some federal officials have said more data is needed before making a determination on Omicron’s severity.
“We are concerned with the large volume of individuals who are being infected every day in the population, that we are going to have a very difficult four weeks ahead with cases in the community, which will of course cause individuals to need to stay off work and school and then for those cases to transfer into admissions to hospital,” Dr. Susan Hopkins, the chief UK medical adviser, told British lawmakers on Tuesday.
Currently, 10 people who were confirmed to have contracted the Omicron variant are hospitalized around the UK, said Hopkins.
And Biden administration COVID-19 advisor Anthony Fauci told CNN that the strain may be the dominant one in the United States. As a result, he argued that Americans should receive booster shots.