The U.S Center for Disease Control (CDC) has placed Colombia at the highest level of coronavirus risk (Level 4), urging travelers to avoid visiting the country and following the guidelines of the most recent travel advisory by the U.S Department of State. “Do not travel to Colombia due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution due to crime, terrorism and kidnapping,” reads the opening section of the advisory, and urges travelers to avoid five departments: Arauca, Cauca (except Popayán), Chocó (except Nuquí), Nariño, and Norte de Santander (except Cúcuta). “U.S. government personnel cannot travel freely throughout Colombia for security reasons,” claims the country information page.

Travelers are also cautioned to reconsider travel to the department of Antioquia north of Medellín, Caquetá, Casanare, César (outside Valledupar), Guainía, Guaviare, Meta, Putumayo, Valle del Cauca department outside of Cali and Palmira, Vaupes and Vichada. “Because of the current situation in Colombia even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” adds the advisory.

Both statements were released as 115 other nations have been classified as Level 4, including key allies Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Israel, Mexico and Germany. Even though the advisories are not mandatory, they do influence the perception of personal risk and security at a critical moment when many countries worldwide are grappling with a third wave of new infections, as well as highly infectious variants of coronavirus. The re-opening of the vital U.S – U.K travel corridor has also been delayed based on the CDC assessment worsening the economic impact for airlines.

While global carriers and cruise ship operators anticipate the easing of border restrictions and quarantines by the end of May, the viral surge continues to gain momentum in Colombia after the country has registered three consecutive days with deaths above 400 and new cases averaging near 17,000. The death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 70,000 on Thursday.

As Bogotá enters another three-day lockdown, Mayor Claudia López confirmed that ICU occupancy in the capital has reached 88% – highest number since the second wave peaked in January. The Ministry of Health also reported on Thursday 19,306 cases of coronavirus, and same day that marks a tragic record in deaths with 430 victims.