MANILA, Philippines – The United States has upgraded its COVID-19 travel notice for the Philippines to Level 4, the highest in its ranking, after a surge in cases fueled by the Omicron variant saw the incidence rate for the virus in the Southeast Asian county climb to “very high.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the update on January 31, which had been adopted by the US State Department on the same day. Under the US government’s advisory, Americans were told, “Do not travel to the Philippines due to COVID-19.”
If travel was necessary, the CDC advised individuals to ensure they were vaccinated and “up to date” with their COVID-19 shots before traveling. The CDC considered one “up to date” with their vaccines “right after” getting a booster dose, though they warned that one could still be at risk for both getting and spreading the virus.
The CDC likewise reminded travelers to wear well-fitting masks and to follow all health requirements and recommendations in the Philippines.
The US classifies countries under its Level 4 travel notice if more than 500 new cases per 100,000 people have been detected over the past 28 days. It also considered testing data as a secondary criteria in determining country classifications.
Before hiking its COVID-19 travel health notice level, the Philippines was classified as Level 3 last January 19.
Nearly two year into the pandemic, infections in the Philippines peaked to their highest levels, placing more pressure on overburdened hospitals and straining the country’s health system once more. In recent weeks, infections have fallen, but daily infections were still higher than levels seen before the Omicron-fueled surge.
At least 53% of the country’s total population has been fully vaccinated. – Rappler.com