On 14 July 2020, Health Protection Scotland (HPS), part of Public Health Scotland (PHS), published its annual surveillance report describing general bacterial, protozoal and viral outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease reported in Scotland in 2019.
In 2019, there were 11 general outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease reported to PHS, a slight reduction on the 14 outbreaks reported in 2018, but in-line with the previous five-year average of 13 outbreaks per year. Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) were the most frequently reported organisms. Across all outbreaks, 49 people were reported to have fallen ill in Scotland during 2019.
On 4 July 2020, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its global advisory against all but essential travel, exempting some countries that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers against coronavirus (COVID-19).
The fitfortravel (for the general public) and TRAVAX (for health professionals) country pages have been updated to include a COVID-19 country specific risk-rating, with every country being identified as high, moderate or low risk and each rating accompanied by appropriate travel advice. This information will be listed in the ‘Alerts’ section on each country page of fitfortravel and the 'Emerging Health Risks' section of every TRAVAX country page. The risk-rating is based on a robust public health assessment of the COVID-19 risks for travellers to each country, and will be regularly reviewed. However, as the global spread of COVID-19 can change at any time, travellers are advised to consider the advice below before planning international travel.
Advice for travellers
Before planning and/or booking international travel, please check:
Further information, including measures to take before, during and after travel to reduce your risk of exposure, is available for the general public on the fitfortravel COVID-19 health considerations for travel page.
Information relating to travel and COVID-19 is available on the TRAVAX (for healthcare practitioners) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Information on COVID-19 for the general public is available on the NHS Inform (Scotland) and the NHS.UK (rest of the UK) websites.
Information and resources on COVID-19 for health professionals is available on the Health Protection Scotland (HPS) (Scotland) and Public Health England (PHE) (rest of the UK) websites.
Source: TRAVAX, 7 July 2020
Public Health England (PHE) has reported that a cat in the town of Arezzo in Tuscany, Italy, has been diagnosed with rabies caused by a bat lyssavirus (West Caucasian bat lyssavirus). The cat became unwell and was diagnosed on 27 June 2020 by the National Reference Centre for Rabies in Italy.
Advice for travellers
- Any animal contact in a rabies endemic area poses a potential risk of infection.
- All travellers to rabies endemic areas should be aware of the risk of rabies, and are advised to avoid contact with animals, both wild and domestic, particularly dogs and cats.
- Children are more vulnerable to rabies than adults, as they are less likely to comprehend the risk of animal contact, less able to defend themselves from an animal attack and may not report a potential exposure.
- An effective rabies vaccination, which can be used pre- and post-exposure, is available and prevents clinical rabies developing. Rabies is invariably fatal once symptoms develop.
Further information on rabies, including vaccination and post-exposure advice, can be accessed on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: TRAVAX, 7 July 2020
On 23 June 2020, the 25th meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) regarding the international spread of wild poliovirus was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The committee agreed that the situation still constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and recommended the extension of the temporary recommendations. The committee provided the director-general with updated risk categories as below:
- A certificate requirement for polio vaccination under IHR (2005) is required for countries listed below, which are infected with WPV1, cVDPV1 or cVDPV3 with the potential risk of international spread:
- Afghanistan (WPV1)
- Pakistan (WPV1)
- Malaysia (cVDPV1)
- Myanmar (cVDPV1)
- Philippines (cVDPV1)
- There is no certificate requirement under IHR (2005) for countries listed below, which are infected with cVDPV2, with potential or demonstrated risk of international spread, with the exception of Afghanistan, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Philippines, which are also infected with WPV1 or cVDPV1. However, travellers are encouraged to carry proof of polio vaccination:
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Republic
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- States no longer infected by WPV1 or cVDPV, but which remain vulnerable to re-infection by WPV or cVDPV:
- Papua New Guinea
Advice for travellers and further information can be found on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: WHO, 23 June 2020
A survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 73 countries are at risk of stock-outs of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 24 countries reporting either a critically low stock of ARVs or disruptions in the supply of these medicines. The survey follows a modelling exercise convened by the WHO and UNAIDS in May 2020, which forecasted a six-month disruption in access to ARVs could lead to a doubling in AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa during 2020.
In 2019, an estimated 8.3 million people were benefiting from ARVs in the 24 countries now experiencing supply shortages. This represents about one-third (33%) of all people taking HIV treatment globally. While there is no cure for HIV, ARVs can control the virus and prevent onward sexual transmission to other people.
The survey found a failure of suppliers to deliver ARVs on time and a shutdown of land and air transport services, coupled with limited access to health services within countries as a result of the pandemic, were among the causes cited for the disruptions.
Source: WHO, 6 July 2020
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched an open consultation on its draft guidance on the technical requirements for regulated food and feed product applications to establish the presence of small particles, including nanoparticles. The guidance sets out information requirements for applications in the regulated food and feed product areas, and establishes criteria for assessing the presence of a fraction of small particles. These requirements apply to particles requiring specific assessment at the nanoscale in conventional materials that do not meet the definition of engineered nanomaterial, as set out in the Novel Food Regulation (EU) 2015/2283.
Interested parties are invited to submit written comments by 9 September 2020, using the electronic template provided.
Source: EFSA, 9 July 2020
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a briefing, which states that actions such as reducing the use of concrete, cement and steel in the building sector, can cut materials-related greenhouse gas emissions by 61% over a building’s life cycle stages until 2050. The EEA assessment presents a new methodological approach, which can help identify and prioritise circular efforts that can contribute to reducing emissions in any sector.
The briefing found that each of a building’s life cycle stages, from design, production and use, through to demolition and waste management, offers opportunity for greater circularity and emission reductions. The background study prepared for the EEA cites that up to two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions are related to flows of materials, and how they are sourced, consumed and disposed of, making it an important area for further reductions. Making buildings more circular over their life cycle means designing and using them more efficiently, making them last longer, and reusing and recycling building materials instead of continually sourcing new ones.
Source: EEA, 9 July 2020