On 8 December 2020, Health Protection Scotland (HPS), part of Public Health Scotland (PHS), updated their immunisation web pages to reflect the latest quarterly data on:
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to evolve, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises British nationals against all but essential travel, exempting some countries that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers. This advice is being kept under constant review and may change at short notice.
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. This risk-rating is based on a robust public health assessment of the COVID-19 risks for travellers to each country and is regularly reviewed.
This week, the risk-ratings for the following countries have increased:
- Saint Lucia
- Occupied Palestinian territories
The COVID-19 risk rating and travel advice from the FCDO is being kept under constant review and may change at short notice. All travellers are advised to continue following sensible precautions and consider the following sources of information listed below.
Advice for travellers
Before planning or booking international travel, please check:
Information relating to travel and COVID-19 is available on the TRAVAX (for healthcare practitioners) and fitfortravel (for the 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.
The World Health Organization (WHO) World Malaria Report 2020 is based on information received from national malaria control programmes and other partners, in 87 malaria-endemic countries. The data shows that in 2019, a global total of 229 million cases of malaria were recorded, including more than 400,000 deaths from the disease.
The report reflects on key events and milestones that have helped shape the global response to malaria over the last two decades, a period during which the WHO estimate 1.5 billion cases and 7.6 million deaths were averted. This year’s report also features a special section on malaria and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a detailed analysis on progress towards the 2020 milestones of the WHO’s global malaria strategy.
As in previous years, the report includes an up-to-date assessment on the burden of malaria at global, regional, and country levels, and tracks investment in malaria programmes and research, as well as detailing progress across the four intervention areas of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and surveillance. There are also dedicated chapters on malaria elimination and key threats, such as insecticide and drug resistance.
Source: WHO, 30 November 2020
On 1 December 2020, to mark World Aids Day, plans for eliminating HIV transmission in Scotland within the next decade were commissioned by Scottish Government Public Health Minister, Joe Fitzpatrick. The proposal will be developed alongside other measures to prevent transmission, including free condom provision, widening access to medication that prevents HIV infection, increasing testing capacity and measures to prevent people sharing needles.
The Scottish Government will provide £377,000 to develop a national online service for sexually transmitted infections and bloodborne viruses, which will allow people to request a test online and home self-sampling, while providing clinicians with comprehensive, real-time data on HIV care and outcomes.
Source: Scottish Government, 1 December 2020
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has developed a new tool to help food business operators decide when to apply the ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date to their products. The ‘use by’ date on food is about safety, as food should not be eaten after this date, even if they look and smell fine, while ‘best before’ refers to quality, as food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best, for example, in terms of flavour and texture. The European Commission estimates that up to 10% of the 88 million tonnes of food waste generated annually in the EU is linked to date marking on food products.
The tool is structured as a decision tree with a series of questions answered by food business operators to help them decide whether a ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date is required. Questions range from whether date marking requirements for a food category are already regulated by legislation, whether a product undergoes any treatment to eliminate hazards, whether it is handled again before packaging, its characteristics and storage conditions.
Source: EFSA, 2 December 2020
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a report confirming the trend of continued reduction in the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by European industry, under both the EU-wide regulated phase-down of HFCs and the global HFC phase-down, which began in 2019 under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
In key findings from the report:
- The volume of total supply of fluorinated gases (F-gases) in the EU, measured in tonnes, was 15% below 2018, and almost 25% below 2017. Expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), the reduction is at 20% below 2018 and 42% below 2017. Refrigeration and air conditioning continue to be key applications.
- Total imports of F-gases to the EU in 2019 decreased by 14% compared with 2018, or 19% if measured in CO2e. Most of this decrease is due to lower HFC imports, and the remainder is caused by decreases in imports of sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).
- Fluorinated greenhouse gas emissions have been decreasing in the EU since 2015, after 15 years of uninterrupted annual increases. In 2018, total fluorinated greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 11% from their peak in 2014.
Source: EEA, 1 December 2020
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has reported on the progress made by the 27 EU member states and the UK towards Europe’s climate and energy targets. The analysis is based on data on greenhouse gas emissions and energy up to 2019, and complemented by the EEA’s own preliminary estimates for missing data.
In 2019, greenhouse gas emissions among EU member states decreased by almost 4%. This one-year drop was unprecedented over the last decade, and occurred before the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU have been steadily declining, with emissions falling to 24% below 1990 levels in 2019. However, preliminary estimates point towards 12 EU countries having emission levels greater than their annual targets, those being Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and Poland.
Source: EEA, 30 November 2020
The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 requires the establishment of a Scottish nitrogen balance sheet (SNBS) by March 2022, via a process of regulations. The Scottish Government is consulting on proposals for establishing an SNBS as a way to keep track of how nitrogen is being used, any losses to the environment, and whether there is scope for improvement. Once established, the SNBS will be reviewed and updated at regular intervals, helping the Scottish Government keep track of progress on improving nitrogen use efficiency.
The consultation is open until 14 January 2021 and can be completed online.