The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance on Monday for people looking to travel to America’s northern neighbor, advising to avoid any travel to Canada.
The CDC elevated the travel risk to Canada, putting the country at level four: very high. That’s the highest risk category and means the CDC is advising people to avoid all travel to Canada. If it’s unavoidable, the CDC recommends people should be fully vaccinated before they travel.
However, the CDC warned that even if travelers are fully vaccinated, they may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19, because the current situation in Canada is so severe.
The Canadian government reported roughly 34,000 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with about 2.5 million total cases reported since the pandemic began. From Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, Canada experienced a 91 percent increase in reported cases over that seven-day period, with the Ontario and Québec provinces accounting for 78 percent of the cases reported that week.
The Canadian government predicts the country’s total cumulative case count will increase to anywhere between 2.8 million to 3.1 million cases by Jan. 16.
The country is also seeing the omicron variant spread rapidly, which the Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed has become the dominant strain, which is the same case in the U.S.
“Although the situation is not the same everywhere, the Omicron variant spreads extremely quickly and the number of infected and ill people can rise rapidly, so increased vigilance is needed across Canada now and over the coming weeks,” said the Public Health Agency of Canada in a statement.
The U.S. had implemented travel bans to Canada throughout the pandemic, as the two countries closed their shared border to all non-essential travel. In November last year, borders were opened to fully vaccinated people.
The CDC has travel health notice thresholds to determine a destination’s COVID-19 threat level, which looks at incidence rate and the new case trajectory. For a destination to reach a level four travel health notice, the incidence rate must be more than 500 in new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population. The case count must also be more than 500 over the past 28 days.
The Canadian government has also implemented its own travel advisory, urging residents to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada, regardless of vaccination status.
Canada’s grim COVID-19 numbers are in contrast to its vaccination efforts, with about 82 percent of the country’s population having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as of Jan. 1. About 76 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.
Canada joins a long list of countries the CDC has categorized at a level four COVID-19 threat, with about 80 countries currently listed to avoid travel to.
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