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| 5 minutes read

ICYMI: Which phase and where? Let's catch up on the state of the pandemic around the world.

In case you missed it, Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed optimism about the state of the pandemic (at least in the U.S.) this week when he said we are moving out of the acute pandemic phase and into the "controlled" pandemic phase. Not sure what that means? Try this explanation. Fauci lays out the five phases of the pandemic as follows:

  1. Full blown or acute phase
  2. Deceleration
  3. Control
  4. Elimination
  5. Eradication

Location has everything to do with which phase you will experience at a given time. Looking around, many places are not feeling positive about their current phase (Shanghai, Beijing, Germany and New York City, for example). In the U.S., cases and hospitalizations are rising in the majority of states. In further clarification, Dr. Fauci shared that “if you look at the global situation, there’s no doubt this pandemic is still ongoing.” 

Comedians are poking some fun at these changing phases, too:  

“I don’t know if I believe it, seeing as how I know about 20 people who have Covid or have had it this month, but Dr. Fauci says we are no longer in the pandemic phase. We are transitioning from the pandemic phase to the awkward teenage phase. So instead of your hands, wash your face.” — JIMMY KIMMEL

Lets look around to see what is happening in locations around the world:

  1.  India: Over 86% of India’s adult population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, totaling to over 1.87 billion doses. India has had a small spike in COVID cases this week, the majority of which came from Delhi, the capital city. For those traveling to India, these guidelines have been in place since Feb. 14, and travelers must either upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report within 72 hours of the flight or share their certificate of completing full primary vaccination schedule of COVID-19 vaccination.
  2. Thailand: Thailand has announced its plans to waive off pre-arrival testing requirements for incoming visitors starting this month. The Tourism Authority of Thailand stated that as of May 1, visitors will no longer have to get tested before coming or upon arrival, regardless of what their vaccination status is. 
  3. China: Beijing has implemented mass testing for millions of people as COVID cases rise. The district of Chaoyang has reported their highest number of cases since the latest surge started, coming in at 26 new cases over the weekend. Many are fearing that Beijing could follow in suit with Shanghai’s lockdown, causing 25 million people to be stuck in their homes for weeks. These rising cases has caused a crash in the stock market due to supply-chain disruptions. Authorities have also suspended domestic flights at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) due to COVID-19 concerns.
  4. Hong Kong: It's been a long time, but as of May 1, non-Hong Kong residents are able to enter Hong Kong so long as they are fully vaccinated and provide a negative COVID test within 48 hours. Visitors are also required to stay within a designated quarantine hotel for at least seven nights, but up to 14 if they opt for a longer quarantine period. All travelers will be shuttled from the airport to their designated hotels.
  5. South Africa: Seeing it's fifth wave, South Africa is experiencing skyrocketing COVID cases, similar to the beginning of the Omicron outbreak. Africa as a whole has been seeing a decline in cases, up until this week, where there has been a sharp uptick, primarily caused by the increase in South Africa. The most infections and deaths in Africa to date were reported in South Africa last week. The recent spike is linked to two new subvariants that are part of the Omicron family: BA.4 and BA.5. Travelers must be vaccinated or present proof of a negative COVID test upon entry to the country.
  6. Germany: Entry restrictions are still in place (extended to the end of May), meaning anyone over the age of 12 must prove vaccination status or provide a negative COVID test to enter the country. The Federal Health Minister stated that Germany is expecting a vaccine to protect against Omicron to be available by September. Germany is reporting over 100,000 new infections each day, leading globally in the most cases on average, per day.
  7. Denmark: The country has become the first country to suspend its COVID vaccination program as health officials say the country’s epidemic has been brought under control. As of February 1, COVID-19 travel restrictions for coming to Denmark were eliminated. The exceptions are that if you are neither fully vaccinated nor previously infected, testing and quarantine requirements may apply. 
  8. Switzerland: Until now, all travelers were required to provide a valid recovery or vaccination certificate to gain restriction-free entry to Switzerland. However, with the imposition of new entry rules, travelers will no longer be required to hold either a valid vaccination or recovery certificate. 
  9. United Kingdom: Cases in the UK have been falling, though the rate of infection is still high. Total infections were down 30%, but there has been a rise in deaths in the past week. The new sub-variant of Omicron is causing an estimated 1 in every 17 people to be infected. Regulations have been loosening within the UK as masks stopped being mandatory in Scotland, and Wales followed suit with England and Northern Ireland's relaxation of regulations at the end of March. It is not currently required to be vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID test to enter the UK.
  10. Greece: It's back to pre-pandemic life for Greece. As of May 1, Greece has removed all major COVID-19 restrictions. That means travelers wanting to visit Greece will not need to carry their vaccination proof, COVID-19 negative test report or proof of recovery. Greece has also dropped all mask requirements for outdoor venues, and will be dropping mask requirements for indoor venues as of June 1.
  11. Iceland: Authorities recently lifted COVID-19-related domestic measures and international travel restrictions. All incoming travelers, regardless of their country of origin or vaccination status, can enter the territory of Iceland without following any measures.
  12. United States: While the mask mandate has been lifted country wide, travelers are still required to provide a negative COVID test upon entry to the U.S., and non-U.S. citizens must provide proof of vaccination. Some cities still have their own mandates, such as San Francsico’s Bay Area, which has reinstated a mask requirement on their BART transportation system until at least July 18. Dr. Deborah Birx is warning that U.S. cases are rising again with the spread of the BA.2 subvariant and is predicting there will be a summer surge of COVID-19 cases across southern states. Also, as shared by FEM, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an extension of the Form I-9 flexibilities until Oct. 31.  

There are many countries that do still have travel restrictions or requirements, but tap into this from Euro News to see some additional big changes for places like Italy, Croatia, Sweden, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and the Czech Republic. Scientists continue to research the variants and share that as the virus continues to upgrade itself, it spreads way faster...more like the measles. 

Although Benning said travelers should still take note of the number of new COVID-19 cases in a given country in the past month, the criteria used by the CDC in issuing its travel health notices, the State Department says travelers should take a three-prong approach to international travel as more and more countries transition into an endemic stage. “COVID-19 is obviously still a consideration, but we wanted to sort of lift the COVID-19 veil from our travel advisories to better reflect separate considerations,” confirmed Benning. According to the most recent travel health notices updated by the CDC on Monday, most countries are currently at Level 3, signaling a “high” level of concern due to COVID-19.


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