‘Avoid travel to Spain’: US issues warning amid rising Omicron cases

An American Airlines plane parked at its gate in the Miami International Airport
An American Airlines plane parked at its gate in the Miami International Airport. Photo: Joe Raedle/AFP
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has moved Spain into its highest travel risk level and asked American nationals and residents to avoid travel to the Iberian nation due to its increasingly high Covid infection rate.

The CDC on Monday recommended against travel to Spain, as the country joined most other nations in Europe in the US’s Level 4 category. 

It remains a recommendation to “avoid travel” to Spain, with the American health body stating that “if you must travel to Spain, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel”.

“Because of the current situation in Spain, even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants,” the CDC added. 

The change points to worries among US authorities regarding the new Omicron variant, where federal health officials already say it represents 73 percent of new Covid cases in the country and is now the dominant strain in the United States.

Spain’s fortnightly infection is now over 500 cases per 100,000 people, classified as “extreme” risk even after Spanish authorities last month raised the bar for what constituted high risk.

Omicron cases represent 47 percent of new infections, according to the latest Spanish health ministry data from December 20th.

Spain – together with Finland, Chad, Lebanon, the island of Bonaire, Monaco, San Marino and Gibraltar – all moved up to the CDC’s Level 4 risk on Monday.

Currently, unvaccinated US travellers who aren’t residents or nationals of Spain cannot travel to Spain for non-essential reasons such as tourism. Those who are fully vaccinated and can prove it through official vaccination documentation can visit Spain for leisure. 

On November 8th, the United States lifted Covid travel restrictions on passengers from Spain if they were fully vaccinated and met other conditions such as getting tested before travel.

The same rules still apply despite this latest discouraging recommendation issued by the CDC, but it can’t be ruled out that the American government will soon tighten entry rules once more to attempt to contain the spread of this latest highly transmissible strain.

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