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For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Agency

The US State Department has added about 100 countries this week to its "Level Four: Do Not Travel" advisory list, putting the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Mexico, Germany and others on the list, citing a "very high level of COVID-19." On Monday, the State Department said it would boost the number of countries receiving its highest advisory rating to about 80 per cent of countries worldwide.

Before Tuesday, the State Department listed 34 out of about 200 countries as "Do Not Travel." The State Department now lists about 131 countries at Level Four. The State Department declined to say when it would complete the updates.

The State Department said Monday the move does not imply a reassessment of current health situations in some countries, but rather "reflects an adjustment in the State Department's Travel Advisory system to rely more on (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's) existing epidemiological assessments." Other countries in the "Do Not Travel" list include Finland, Egypt, Belgium, Turkey, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain. Some countries like China and Japan remain at Level 3: Reconsider Travel." Most Americans already had been prevented from traveling to much of Europe because of COVID-19 restrictions. Washington has barred nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in most of Europe, China, Brazil, Iran and South Africa.

On Tuesday, the United States extended by another 30 days restrictions barring non-essential travel at its Canadian and Mexican borders.

Asked for comment on the travel advisory changes, Airlines for America, a trade group representing major U.S. carriers, said it continues "to urge the federal government to transparently establish the criteria " including clear metrics, benchmarks, and a timeline " for reopening international markets." Earlier this month, CDC said fully vaccinated people can safely travel within the United States at "low risk" but Director Rochelle Walensky discouraged Americans from doing so because of high coronavirus cases nationwide.