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The U.S. State Department is warning against international travel as it plans to add dozens of countries to its highest travel advisory classification to stem the spread of COVID-19.
In total, Reuters reported about 80% of the world is expected to be raised to Level 4, adding nearly 130 countries to the State Department's highest designation.
Currently, the department classifies 34 countries as "Level 4: Do Not Travel," including Brazil, Iraq, Syria, Russia, North Korea, and Kenya. Now, the State Department plans to add scores more, which it said would put the department more in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations by destination.
For its part, the CDC classifies 141 destinations as "Level 4: COVID-19 Very High."
"As travelers face ongoing risks due COVID-19, we have updated our Travel Advisories to better reflect @CDC's science-based Travel Health Notices," the State Department tweeted on Monday. "We also considered logistics like testing availability and travel restrictions for U.S. citizens."
The decision comes weeks after the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people can travel with low risk to themselves, including internationally, and do not need to quarantine when they return home unless required by their local jurisdiction. Those who return from an international trip are still required to get tested within three days of boarding a flight to the U.S., regardless of their vaccination status, and should still get re-tested upon returning home.
The State Department, which lifted its Level 4: Global Health Advisory against international travel in August 2020, now assesses countries on a country-by-country basis, much like it did pre-pandemic.
A spokesperson for Airlines for America, which represents major U.S. airlines, told Reuters "the U.S. airline industry has been a strong advocate for the development of a risk-based, data-driven roadmap for restoring international travel."
The spokesperson added the group continues "to urge the federal government to transparently establish the criteria – including clear metrics, benchmarks, and a timeline – for reopening international markets."