The State Department announced Monday it plans to update its travel advisories this week to “better reflect” travel health notices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The update will bring a “significant increase” in the number of countries under the strictest Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisories, affecting about 80% of countries worldwide, the department said in a release.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose unprecedented risks to travelers,” the release reads. “In light of those risks, the Department of State strongly recommends U.S. citizens reconsider all travel abroad.”
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“This does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country, but rather reflects an adjustment in the State Department’s Travel Advisory system to rely more on CDC’s existing epidemiological assessments,” the department wrote.
Officials said they will “closely monitor conditions” and provides updates as the situation evolves. Public health officials continue to urge against non-essential travel amid the pandemic as highly transmissible variants continue to circulate.
The news comes as top officials at the World Health Organization warn over alarming rates of infections and poor outcomes.
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“Infections and hospitalizations among people aged 25-to-59 are increasing at an alarming rate, possibly as a result of highly transmissible variants and increased social mixing among younger adults,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, during a briefing Monday.
Federal health authorities require international travelers to have a negative test result or evidence of recovery from COVID-19 before stepping on flights to the U.S. The CDC had updated its domestic travel guidance for fully vaccinated travelers earlier this month, saying they could travel safely in the U.S. without getting tested or self-quarantining.
However, travelers should still continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands, whether they are fully vaccinated or not, according to the agency.
Fox News’ Ann Schmidt contributed to this report.