Covid-19 Methodology

Riskline's methodology for determining COVID-19 Risk Levels, Domestic Travel Ratings and Infection Risk Levels

We provide risk assessments for COVID-19 for three specific geographic areas: countries (and other territories), regions within countries and cities.

Sources: In addition to its regular open source intelligence (OSINT) monitoring, our team of global intelligence analysts also closely reviews the latest public health developments from government agencies and bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), as well as private institutions such as the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Oxford University and the International Society for Infectious Diseases in order to make accurate and timely assessments of travel and health risks.

Updates: COVID reports are updated or verified 1) when an established policy or restriction is scheduled to end 2) when a new or updated policy or restriction is announced or comes into force 3) at least every 14 days. The "as of" date for each section of the report reflects when Riskline last updated or verified the information in that section.

COVID-19 Risk Levels: We assess a Risk Level for each destination based on international and domestic restrictions as well as the transmission of the virus.

The Overall Risk Level for a destination is determined by the higher of the COVID-19 Risk Level or the Security Risk Level, an aggregate of all other risks besides COVID. For example, if the United Kingdom has a Moderate Security Risk Level, but a High COVID-19 Risk Level, we would rate the United Kingdom as High overall.

COVID-19 Risk Levels are a subjective assessment by our analysts based on the following guidelines:

Covid-19 Risk Level matrixCovid-19 Risk Level matrix

Covid-19 Risk Level matrix

In addition, we describe COVID-19 Risk Levels as:

  • Unvaccinated travellers should defer non-essential travel to Extreme Risk locations, and vaccinated travellers should reconsider their travel. These locations may have severely restricted international travel and domestic activities. These locations have widespread community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and extremely high rates of COVID-19 infections.
  • Unvaccinated travellers should reconsider their need to travel to High Risk locations, and vaccinated travellers should exercise caution. These locations may have severely restricted international travel and partially restricted domestic activities. These locations have community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and high rates of COVID-19 infections.
  • Unvaccinated travellers should exercise caution when travelling to Medium Risk locations, and vaccinated travellers should take normal precautions. These locations may have some restrictions on international travel, but few restrictions on domestic activities. These locations have clusters of or sporadic transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and moderate to high rates of COVID-19 infections.
  • Travellers should take normal precautions when travelling to Moderate Risk locations, which have few restrictions on international travel and limited or no restrictions on domestic activities. These locations have sporadic transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and low to moderate rates of COVID-19 infections.
  • ​​Travellers should take normal precautions when travelling to Low Risk locations, which have limited or no restrictions on international travel and domestic activities. These locations have very low or no transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and very low infection rates or no new cases of COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 Domestic Travel Rating: We assess travel ratings for states, provinces and regions of countries in which there is no coordinated national response, or when control measures are handled by local authorities. These ratings do not take into account the threat of virus transmission, only the most salient restrictions on travel and other important activities.

  • Extreme: Only essential tasks and medical care are allowed.
  • High: Few activities are allowed, but stay-at-home is widely encouraged.
  • Medium: Some activities are allowed, but restrictions remain in place.
  • Moderate: Most activities are allowed, and most restrictions are relaxed or ended.
  • Low: Minimal to no restrictions on activities; the 'new normal'.

COVID-19 Infection Risk Level:

Global: This level is calculated based on the number of new infections in the past 14 days per 100,000 people. The data comes from the European CDC, which compiles the previous week's data between Monday and Wednesday and publishes updated numbers on Thursday.

  • Low: 0
  • Moderate: 1-19.9
  • Medium: 20-59.9
  • High: 60-119.9
  • Extreme: 120-239.9
  • Extreme+: 240-479.9
  • Extreme++: 480-959.9
  • Extreme+++: 960+

Regional: This level is calculated based on the number of new infections in the past seven days per 100,000 people. The data is sourced from Johns Hopkins University for the USA and Australia; Canadian Public Health; the French government; and the Spanish government.

  • Low: 0
  • Moderate: 1-9.9
  • Medium: 10-29.9
  • High: 30-59.9
  • Extreme: 60-119.9
  • Extreme+: 120-239.9
  • Extreme++: 240-479.9
  • Extreme+++: 480+

COVID-19 City Risk Levels: Cities inherit the assessment from the region (if assessed by Riskline) or country/territory to which they belong. In cases where we determine that a city exhibits a different risk profile than its region or country/territory, we will select the most appropriate risk level based on the above table and include a short 'Summary' to explain the reasoning.

COVID-19 destination case counts: total cases and deaths are taken from Johns Hopkins CSSE data set.

Note 1: the World Health Organisation uses stricter criteria to confirm infections, and their case count will typically be lower.

Note 2: negative values in cases and deaths can occur when a locations revises historical data due to previously overestimating the number of cases or deaths. Similarly, corrections to previously underestimated case numbers can result in abnormally large changes in cases and deaths.

Note 3: as of 22 June 2021, Riskline will no longer report Active and Recovered cases. Many countries stopped reporting these numbers, due to the difficulty in agreeing a standard definition of how to measure this metric. After more than a year into the pandemic, these are no longer a useful metric for assessing the current state of an outbreak or the risk of infection.

Vaccination Rates: Data for the percent of the population that received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine comes from the World Health Organisation. Date for the percent of the population that is fully vaccinated comes from Our World in Data. Note that these sources update data on different days, meaning that the 'as of' dates may not match.

Definitions:

Policies:

  • Lockdown: Authorities permit only essential services and activities.
  • Stay at home: Authorities advise the population to remain at home as much as possible.
  • Curfew: Authorities restrict activities and/or services on certain days or at certain times of day.
  • Closing: Activities and services are generally closing in response to deteriorating infection trends.
  • Opening: Activities and services are generally opening in response to improving infection trends.
  • Open: The majority of activities and services have resumed, with social distancing in place.
  • Partial Measures: Some activities and services have resumed, while others remain suspended.
  • Distancing: Authorities require or recommend social distancing, but few to no other restrictions.
  • None: Authorities have taken no special measures in response to the outbreak.

Flight ban: regulations or orders are in place that generally restrict the arrival or departure of international commercial flights. Closing all airports within a destination, for instance, represents a de facto ban on international flights.

Entry ban: regulations or orders are in place that restrict the entry of foreign travellers - based on nationality, travel history or other criteria - stop the issuance of visas or otherwise prohibit entry at border crossings.

Quarantine: regulations or orders are in place requiring arriving travellers to self-quarantine or be quarantined in a designated facility for a set period of time. These orders may or may not be enforced and monitored by authorities.

  • 'Self': Travellers should self-quarantine at home or at another suitable location of their choosing, such as a hotel or short-stay rental.
  • 'Gov': Travellers are required to quarantine at a facility operated by a government; this could include a purpose-built facility or a private accommodation, such as a hotel, run by the government.
  • 'Hybrid': Travellers will quarantine at both a government-run facility and self-quarantine, according to local regulations.

Airline Supplier Policies:

  • Mask Required: Regulation in place that requires passengers to wear a face mask while on-board the aircraft for the duration of the flight.
  • Temperature Scan: Policy in place that allows gate staff to carry out non-contact temperature measurements of all passengers prior to boarding.
  • Certification Required: Policy in place that passengers must submit a self-declaration health form or PCR/antigen test at the time of check-in regardless of destination requirement.
  • Enhanced Cleaning: Procedures in place of additional cleaning and sanitization measures of the interior of aircraft and cabin.
  • Limited Food & Beverage: Availability of in-flight food (snacks and/or meals) and beverage service.
  • HEPA Filters Used: Installation of High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters on aircraft.
  • Middle Seat Blocked: Policy in place of blocking empty or "middle seats" in-flight to allow for social distancing.
  • Book COVID Test via Airline: Service in place that allows passengers to book convenient testing options and access the airline’s partners' medical laboratories.
  • Recommended App: Policy in place that invites passengers to download a digital health passport before departure. Passengers are asked to complete health surveys or to upload personal data like lab results and vaccine certificates. Possible Apps include: IATA’s Travel Pass, CommonPass, VeriFly, and AOKpass. In most cases, airlines are still trialling the App on selected routes.