US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raises COVID-19 threat level for Australia to 'Very High'

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised against travel to Australia and 21 other nations and territories because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases. Tuesday's announcement also named Israel, Egypt, Albania, Argentina and Uruguay as places to avoid.

The CDC elevated its travel recommendation to "Level Four: Very High," telling Americans they should avoid travel to those destinations, which also include Panama, Qatar, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Suriname, Saint Lucia and Bolivia.

In total, the CDC now lists just over 100 countries and territories at "Level 4". As well as the threat of COVID-19, the "Level 4" warning can make it difficult for travellers to obtain travel insurance for those destinations.

Despite the warnings against international travel, the US remains the country with the world's largest number of new COVID cases, with more than 500,000 recorded on Tuesday, and the highest number of deaths, with more than 1700 recorded the same day. 

The CDC also raised another 20 countries to "Level 3: High", including Uganda, Kuwait, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Cuba. The CDC recommends that unvaccinated Americans avoid non-essential travel to those destinations.

The CDC warns that anyone visiting "Level 4" destinations should be vaccinated. In the case of Australia, foreign nationals are not currently allowed to enter unless they're vaccinated - an issue that made global headlines over the past week after men's tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic was, eventually, denied entry to the country and deported.

The US warning comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a rebate on visa fees to lure international students and working holidaymakers back to Australia to help revive the economy and plug critical worker shortages.

The Australian government's Smart Traveller website currently lists the US at its second-lowest warning level - "Exercise a high degree of caution" - the same warning that is now applied to the vast majority of countries at present due to the pandemic.

The US also currently bans unvaccinated foreigners over the age of 18 from entering the country, with a small number of exceptions. The US can also refuse entry to anyone showing signs of illness.

The CDC's four COVID-19 warning levels for travel are Low, Moderate, High and Very High, along with several countries listed as threat level "Unknown", including most Pacific island nations.

with Reuters