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New Zealand on ‘high risk’ travel list, US CDC reviews omicron wave

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New Zealand is now classified as “high risk” due to Covid-19 according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Photo / 123rf

New Zealand has been moved to the second highest travel risk group by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after a record number of coronavirus cases.

In response to the recent surge of omicron cases from Aotearoa, the United States is advising citizens to review their travel plans.

As New Zealand faces a surge of omicron cases, the country has been moved from Tier 2 “moderate” to Tier 3 “high risk” by the CDC.

Other countries considered high risk by the CDC include Bangladesh, India, Morocco, South Africa and Vietnam.

According to the CDC, New Zealand is considered level three due to the “high level of Covid-19”. Travelers are encouraged to be up to date with Covid-19 vaccines, but also warned that even fully vaccinated visitors “may still be at risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19”.

Anyone over the age of two should also wear a properly fitted mask in all indoor public spaces, the CDC’s website says.

Destination-specific levels are based on several factors, including testing rates, vaccination rates, new variants and the number of new cases reported per 100,000 people in the past 28 days.

Tier 4 locations have over 500 cases, Tier 3 has between 100 and 500 cases, and Tier 2 has between 50 and 99 cases.

In the past 7 days, 861 infections have been reported per 100,000 people in New Zealand according to Reuters.

This led to New Zealand reaching the travel health advisory threshold – reserved for countries that record a higher level for 14 consecutive days, or face a significant rise in cases in a shorter period of time.

New Zealand’s risk level will be reviewed over a period of 28 consecutive days before it can be restored to level 2.

This is not the first time that New Zealand has been classified as a Tier 3 destination. Last year the country was classified as “high risk” due to strict border closures.

Currently there are 140 Tier 4 rated destinations including Australia, Canada and the UK.

Only six countries are classified at level 1, low risk; Benin, China, Falkland Islands, Hong Kong SAR, Sierra Leone and Taiwan.

The 3-tier advisory system was upgraded to a 4-tier system in November 2020, to communicate health risks associated with travel to certain destinations.