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The #1 Worst Place You Could Go Right Now, Say Virus Experts

If you’re avoiding COVID, avoid these spots.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Planning some overseas travel this summer? Not so fast. While COVID-19 cases in the U.S are dropping, BA.2 is still causing a huge amount of trouble in parts of the world. "Traveling certainly entails risk, but you can reduce that risk by making sure you are vaccinated and boosted," says CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. "Wearing a mask in crowded indoor settings further reduces risk. In the United States, follow the CDC guidance and make sure to wear a mask in areas that have high Covid-19 community levels. If you are planning international travel, know the rules, including whether you have to have proof of vaccination or a recent negative test." Here are the five worst places with COVID-19 to visit right now, according to virus experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Germany

woman sitting inside airplane wearing KN95 FFP2 protective mask
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Germany is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases that is causing concern to virus experts in Europe. "We all hoped and expected a different turn now at the beginning of spring," says Ralf Reintjes, professor of epidemiology at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. "But the situation in Europe is a bit bumpy at the moment, and in Germany … the [case] numbers are at a very, very high level, and they're still increasing and have been increasing for quite some time."

2

Australia

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Australia's BA.2 cases are also surging, virus experts warn. "People infected with COVID-19 have been infecting a greater number of people," says epidemiologist Nancy Baxter, head of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne. "In the past when the outbreak was shrinking one person was transmitting it to less than one person on average. Now it's definitely above one. In many states it's gone to 1.2, which means that the outbreak is gaining momentum now. In NSW a month ago, we had cases per day as low as 5,000. Today, we have around 24,000. So there's clearly something different happening. We're starting to see hospital numbers and ICU numbers go up, and we know that those metrics trail the rise in cases. So we'd expect hospitalisations to be trending upwards as well and will continue to do so until after the peak is reached."

3

China

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Mainland China is currently battling its worst outbreak of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started, largely driven by the BA.2 subvariant. "Omicron BA.2 caused this outbreak, and spreads faster and more easily than previous viruses," the province of Fujian said in an online statement.

RELATED: I Have Omicron and This is What it Feels Like

4

New Zealand

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New Zealand is currently dealing with a new strain of Omicron called XE, a combination of the BA.1 and BA.2 variants. "It's basically a recombinant that was first found in the UK mid-January and it contains genetic material from both BA1 and BA2, which are the two most common subvariants of Omicron," says evolutionary virologist Jemma Geoghegan. "We don't actually know yet many of the characteristics and many of them will just die out and not go anywhere. XE is definitely one to watch. If it does increase in frequency and in prevalence in the population, and then if there's a difference between hospitalized cases, then that's something we can [observe] to better understand the severity. This requires robust genomic surveillance worldwide to track this. The WHO is urging countries to do genomic surveillance in a widespread fashion."

RELATED: COVID Symptoms Usually Appear Like This

5

U.K.

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The new XE subvariant has been detected in the U.K., so you might want to put those travel plans to visit Buckingham Palace on hold for now. "This particular recombinant, XE, has shown a variable growth rate and we cannot yet confirm whether it has a true growth advantage. So far there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about transmissibility, severity or vaccine effectiveness," says UKHSA's chief medical advisor professor Susan Hopkins.

RELATED: I'm a Virus Expert and if You Have This Symptom, Get Help

6

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan