The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has moved the entire Czech Republic to the highest level of heightened concern for contagious diseases that can be spread by air travel. In turn, the risk level across Europe has been raised from moderately high to high risk, although significant other countries, such as Finland, Malta, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, remain below the highest level.
On a global scale, the proportion of countries that are rated as “high risk” with routine air travel measures remains well below 20 percent. The spread of the acute respiratory illness and pneumonia called “swine flu” is far less predictable, however, and remains one of the biggest sources of travel-associated deaths since the introduction of international air travel.
The highest risk grades are now only given to 24 countries:
The heightened level of risk comes as a result of heightened levels of “new flu-like illness,” and not solely “swine flu.” Despite the move, other nations are not now automatically placed in the top risk category for air travel. Only countries, including the U.S., that have “greater than exceptional” rates of new seasonal flu cases through July 2019 are considered high risk and “are expected to continue to rank at or near the highest levels of travel risk.” Other nations are considered moderately high risk for disease transmission but are expected to “likely” drop off.
The highest risk countries are among the most densely populated, having some of the highest natural-gas emissions in the world. These factors are known to affect the climate and worsen flu activity. By contrast, low risk nations that are “less densely populated and have less limited natural gas emissions” are less likely to have flu problems. These include countries like Finland, Malta, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.