Avoid Going Here While Omicron Spreads, CDC Now Warns

The health agency placed it under its highest risk level due to rising case numbers.

For nearly two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change our plans depending on how rapidly the virus is spreading at the time. Now, with the latest variant sending cases higher than ever before, officials are warning that it's once again best to follow standard precautions such as wearing a face mask and avoiding large, crowded indoor events. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also warned against going to one place specifically as Omicron continues to spread. Read on to see where the health agency advises you to stay away from right now.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said This Is When Omicron Cases Will Start Going Down.

The CDC is warning to avoid going to Canada as Omicron continues to spread.

CN Tower in Ontario Canada Privately Owned Landmarks
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On Jan 10, the CDC announced that it had moved Canada into its top risk category of "Level 4: Covid-19 Very High" as the Omicron variant continues to spread there. As a result, the agency is urging to avoid all travel to the U.S.'s northern neighbor, which now joins a list of 82 countries that are also currently designated to be at the top risk level.

Canada is experiencing a record high surge in COVID cases right now.

A young man getting a nasal swab from a healthcare worker as part of a COVID-19 test
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The agency determines risk level based on recently reported cases, with the top tier "Level 4" designated as any place where more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents have been recorded in the past 28 days. During the week ending Jan. 8, Canada reported a record high of 294,437 new cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

"If you must travel to Canada, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel," the CDC said in its travel alert. "Because of the current situation in Canada, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants."

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Canadian officials have issued their own warnings to citizens about international travel.

parliament Hill atop a dramatic hill overlooking the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario in autumn. Parliament Hill is home to Canada's federal government and is the centrepiece of Ottawa’s downtown landscape. Ottawa is known for is high-tech business sector, vast array of museums and high standard of living.
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The latest travel advisory isn't one-sided. On Dec. 15, the Canadian government released its own travel advisory, urging its citizens to avoid non-essential travel outside the country, regardless of their vaccination status. Recent reports show that positive test rates in Ontario, the country's most populous province, has been around 30 percent for the past week, while the neighboring province of Quebec was suffering from a shortage of hospital beds coupled with a surge of healthcare workers who can't work due to infection, The Guardian reports. Overall, Canada was reporting 404,404 active cases of the virus as of Jan. 11.

"We are not only seeing an increase in the number of patients in our hospitals, but we are also seeing that we are losing even more staff every day," Christian Dubé, health minister of Quebec, said during a press conference last week. He also warned that the province had likely not yet passed its peak level of infections.

The latest advisory doesn't bring back previous travel restrictions between the two countries.

A couple with a young child board a flight while wearing face masks in an airport
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The CDC's latest recommendation comes barely two months after the two neighboring countries ended an unprecedented closure of their shared border and allowed fully vaccinated citizens to travel freely between them. However, the current advisory doesn't reimpose the same restrictions as seen before: As per current requirements, fully vaccinated Americans may still travel north of the border with a negative PCR test. Canadian nationals may also enter the U.S. so long as they are fully vaccinated and provide a negative COVID test from within the previous 24 hours.

RELATED: If You Notice Pain Here, It May Be an Omicron Symptom, Doctors Warn.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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