The US Has Issued A "Do Not Travel" Advisory for the UK and Four Other Countries

Here we go again

Scenic view of Quiraing mountains in Isle of Skye, Scottish highlands, United Kingdom. Sunrise time with colourful an rayini clouds in background
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. State Department have officially raised the advisory level and are warning U.S. citizens and residents to avoid travel to five countries around the globe, citing a marked concern over rising COVID-19 cases in these areas.

The five newest countries bumped up to the ‘Do Not Travel’ list include Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Fiji, the British Virgin Islands, and the United Kingdom. Until yesterday, July 19, these countries were all hovering with a ‘Level 3: Avoid Non-Essential Travel’ label. Since May 19, 57 new countries have received the ‘Level 4: Do Not Travel’ advisory on the CDC’s Travel Recommendation list.

According to Our World in Data as of July 18, 2021, just over half (54.2 percent) of the United Kingdom has reached fully-vaccinated status with 36.1 million receiving full doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s still higher than the reported 49.2 percent rate of the population considered fully-vaxxed in the United States.

While vaccines promised the chance to return to some kind of new normal, or at least reopen many borders for non-essential travel, hardly any country has jabbed enough people required to reach the golden goal of herd immunity.

Unfortunately, the Delta variant got the message, and much of the rise in cases can be traced back to this pesky variant. The CDC has just reported that over 83 percent of all new COVID-19 cases in the United States have been sequenced as the Delta variant. The UK, in particular, had had a rough time controlling the variant, as it became the dominant variant weeks before it overtook U.S. cases.

In January 2021, COVID-19 cases in the UK peaked at nearly 60,000 new cases per day, but after a serious shutdown and the beginning of vaccinations, cases began falling. By early May, they had dropped to around 1,600 new cases per day. But then cases started trekking up again, and the country has been reporting between 45,000 to 50,000 new cases per day.

That alone would be enough for the U.S. to pop up their travel warning for the country—but that’s not all that is happening across the pond. Despite climbing numbers, and against advisories, the UK relaxed its COVID-19 rules Monday, July 19. 

People are no longer required to wear face masks, there are no limits on the number of people who can gather together at private or public spaces and venues, and there are no social distancing requirements. The country has also reopened nightclubs, and the table service-only limitations in pubs and restaurants have been lifted.

In Indonesia, the COVID-19 rates have increased tenfold since mid-May and are dancing between 35,000 to 50,000 new cases per day. On May 30, Zimbabwe reported just 11 new cases. Just two weeks later, the new daily case rate stood at 3,111; it's currently at just over 1,000. In mid-May, Fiji celebrated single-digit new case numbers, including zero new cases on May 15, but soon saw an uptick of 1,043 new cases come July 18. Similarly, the British Virgin Islands had reached a stretch of zero new cases in early and mid-May, but it didn’t last long. Cases were in the hundreds, and on July 18, the seven-day average reached 172 new cases.

Article Sources
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  1. Becker's Hospital Review. "States ranked by percentage of population fully vaccinated: July 28." July 28, 2021
  2. CNBC. "Delta variant now accounts for 83% of all sequenced Covid cases in the U.S., CDC Director Walensky says." July 20, 2021

  3. The Guardian. "Covid UK: coronavirus cases, deaths and vaccinations today."

  4. AP. "Death rates soar in Southeast Asia as virus wave spreads." July 22, 2021
  5. World Health Organization. Zimbabwe. July 27, 2021