Americans Warned Against Traveling to UK as Delta Variant Surges

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday raised the United Kingdom to its highest warning level for COVID-19, and urged Americans to avoid traveling to the country.

"Because of the current situation in the United Kingdom, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants," the CDC said in a statement on Monday.

In the event an American would have to travel to the U.K., the CDC urged all citizens to make sure they are fully vaccinated beforehand.

The CDC announcement comes as the U.K. is experiencing a rapid surge of coronavirus cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant. The Delta variant was first discovered in India in December and is thought to be at least twice as contagious as other strains of COVID-19. Last week, cases across the U.K. topped 50,000 per day for the first time since January.

According to government health data, at least 39,950 new positive cases were reported on Monday. Hospitalizations remain low but are progressively increasing, with 4,313 people admitted to hospital in the last seven days. At least 283 people have died in the last week.

Despite rising cases, the U.K. lifted its remaining lockdown orders and mask mandates on Monday, cutting social distancing requirements and allowing indoor venues like nightclubs and sports stadiums to open at full capacity.

The move sparked criticism from 1,200 international scientists who called the decision "dangerous and premature." While public health officials are hoping that the U.K.'s high vaccination rates will help protect the public, others warned that fully lifting restrictions could have dire consequences in the next few weeks.

"I can't think of any realistic good scenario to come out of this strategy, I'm afraid," Julian Tang, a clinical virologist at the University of Leicester, told the Associated Press. "I think it's really a degree of how bad it's going to be."

So far, 68.5 percent of adults, or more than half the total population, have received two doses of the vaccine across the U.K. The nation has administered a total of more than 82 million shots.

Nonetheless, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the public to "proceed cautiously" and "recognize that this pandemic is far from over," amid lifted restrictions.

"Please, please, please be cautious. Go forward tomorrow into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people and the risks that the disease continues to present," Johnson said in a statement Sunday night, according to CNBC.

In total, the U.K. has seen over 5.4 million cases and 128,988 deaths since the pandemic first began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

COVID-19 cases across the U.K. topped 50,000 per day for the first time since January, last week. Commuters with and without facemasks arrive at Waterloo station in London, U.K. on Monday. NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images