Increasing COVID cases have forced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to move four nations to its “high” risk category on Monday as the agency continues to warn Americans about the spread of the virus.

The news additions to the Level 3 “high” risk category include Antigua and Barbuda, Lesotho, South Africa, and Taiwan, which now sit at the highest ranking for travel warnings.

The CDC has since reserved its Level 4 “very high” risk category for special circumstances, moving about 90 nations out of the list back in mid-April.

All four additions to the Level 3 category have seen their COVID case count worsen in recent days as a “high” risk nation has more than 100 COVID cases per 100,000 residents reported in the past 28 days.

Lesotho was previously listed as a Level 1 “low” risk destination, moving up two spots to Level 3, while Antigua and Barbuda, South Africa, and Taiwan were all previously listed as Level 2 “moderate” risk nations.

Last week, the CDC only made one addition to its Level 3 category, adding the British Virgin Islands.

There are currently about 110 destinations listed in the CDC’s Level 3 category out of the approximately 235 nations the agency is monitoring for COVID-19. Other Level 3 destinations include the majority of Europe, Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Costa Rica, and parts of the Caribbean.

The CDC recommends Americans be up-to-date with all COVID vaccines before traveling to a Level 3 location but warns that “even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, you may still be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19.”

Other updates made by the CDC on Monday include two additions to its Level 2 “moderate” risk category with Anguilla and Lebanon. Both destinations saw their COVID situations improve as they were previously listed in the Level 3 category.

A Level 2 location has between 50 to 100 COVID cases per 100,000 residents reported in the past 28 days. There are about 20 nations currently listed in the CDC’s Level 2 category.

Also seeing updates on Monday were four locations that were added to the Level 1 “low” category – Jordan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe.

These nations have lowered their COVID case count, reporting 49 or fewer cases of the virus per 100,000 residents over the past 28 days. They were all previously listed at Level 2.

Slightly more than 50 destinations are currently listed in the CDC’s Level 1 “low” risk category.

Only one nation was moved to the CDC’s “unknown” risk category on Monday with French Polynesia.

The CDC’s “unknown” category has unreliable information about a destination’s COVID situation, or the location is undergoing warfare or unrest. The risk of traveling to these nations is unknown, and therefore not recommended by the CDC.

West African or Niger giraffes, the last of which are in southwestern Koure, near where the attack on French tourists took place West African or Niger giraffes, the last of which are in southwestern Koure, near where the attack on French tourists took place Photo: AFP / BOUREIMA HAMA