07 September 2021
Volume: 55 Issue: 36
HPS Weekly Report
07 Sep 2021
Volume 55 No. 36
Immunisation web page quarterly updates
On 7 September 2021, Public Health Scotland (PHS) updated their immunisation and vaccine-preventable diseases web page to reflect the latest quarterly data on:
- Haemophilus influenza
- invasive pneumococcal disease
- meningococcal disease
Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update
International travel continues to be severely restricted due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with information on such travel available for people living in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Travelling abroad carries a risk of exporting and importing new cases and variants of COVID-19, therefore travellers are still advised to consider whether their trip abroad is necessary before booking travel. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) continues to advise against travel to red list countries.
A traffic light system which categorises countries on to a red, amber or green list, based on their COVID-19 risk, is in place for travellers arriving into the UK, although it should be noted that the traffic light system does not indicate which countries are currently allowing UK travellers to enter their country.
Currently, anyone entering Scotland from countries on the international travel green list will not be required to quarantine on arrival, but will have to complete a passenger locator form, take an initial PCR test for COVID-19 before travel, then another within two days of arriving in Scotland. Isolation is only required if the COVID-19 test taken on day two after arriving back in Scotland is positive or NHS Scotland Test and Protect makes contact to inform of the need to isolate, due to travel with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. On 30 August 2021, Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland updated their rules for returning to the UK from some red, amber and green list countries.
On return to the UK, travellers should be aware that testing and quarantine rules differ for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Prior to their journey, travellers must ensure they are able to comply with the rules appropriate to the UK nation they will be arriving and residing in, if different.
Country specific COVID-19 risk
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.
Advice for travellers
Prior to booking any international travel, travellers must first check if the country they are travelling to is currently accepting UK travellers.
- Each country or territory on the FCDO foreign travel advice page provides up-to-date information on their entry rules, in response to coronavirus (COVID-19), under the ‘Entry Requirements’ section.
- Travellers should be aware that some countries or territories may require proof of COVID-19 vaccination status for entry. Guidance for demonstrating COVID-19 vaccination status is available for those living in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It is advised that travellers are aware of all travel restrictions, self-isolation rules and precautions they should take, in order to reduce their risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) before, during and after travel, as detailed on the fitfortravel website.
Source: TRAVAX, 29 July 2021
WNV in Europe
Since the start of the 2021 West Nile virus (WNV) transmission season, up to 26 August 2021, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has reported 43 cases of West Nile fever in EU and EEA countries, comprising of 25 cases in Greece (including one death), eleven in Italy, three in Romania, two in Austria and two in Hungary. In Serbia there have been six cases, with two deaths.
West Nile fever is caused by West Nile virus (WNV) and occurs annually in southern and central Europe. The virus is spread by mosquito bites and can cause a flu-like illness and rarely, severe disease.
Advice for travellers
Travellers should be advised to:
- practice mosquito bite avoidance measures at all times, especially at dusk and dawn during peak transmission times and when outbreaks are known to be occurring
- seek medical advice if they develop a sudden onset of flu-like symptoms with fever following travel to a risk area
Blood donors should note that if they have travelled to an area where WNV has been detected in the past four months, they may need to be tested for the virus before donating blood. All travel must be mentioned to the blood transfusion service so that they can determine whether a test is required. The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) has produced a leaflet which details information about blood donation after travel.
It should be noted there is no vaccine which protects against WNV.
Further advice and information on West Nile fever is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: TRAVAX, 31 August 2021
WHO and UN partners create environmental risk factors compendium
The World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (ENDP) and UNICEF have partnered to create a new compendium of 500 actions, aimed at reducing death and diseases driven by environmental risk factors, the first such resource to unite this expertise from across the UN system.
Environmental pollution and other environmental risks cause 24% of deaths through heart disease, stroke, poisonings, and traffic accidents, amongst others. It is believed this toll could be substantially reduced, or eliminated, through bold preventive action at national, regional, local and sector-specific levels.
The compendium provides access to practical actions which practitioners may use to help scale-up efforts in creating healthy environments which may prevent disease. It is designed for use by policymakers, staff in government ministries, local government, in-country UN personnel and other decision makers, and presents actions and recommendations to address a comprehensive range of environmental risk factors to health, including, but not limited to, air pollution, unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene, climate and ecosystem change, chemicals, radiation and occupational risks.
Source: WHO, 3 September 2021
EEA publishes report on raw material extraction and processing
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a report on raw material extraction and processing, which assesses the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction and processing of key raw materials consumed in Europe. The selected eight raw materials include:
- limestone and gypsum
- bauxite and aluminium
- chemical and fertiliser minerals
Examples of climate-friendly sourcing options include adopting a life cycle approach to allow better accounting and monitoring of climate-related impacts associated with raw material supply chains, promoting resource- and energy-efficient practices, promoting use of renewable energy sources during extraction and processing of raw materials, strengthening market demand for secondary raw materials and using international frameworks for increasing transparency and cooperation along the raw material supply chains.
Source: EEA, 30 August 2021
EEA publishes EU maritime transport environmental report
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published the first EU maritime transport report on environmental impact. In recent years, the maritime sector has taken significant measures to alleviate its environmental impacts. Ahead of a projected increase in global shipping volumes, this report reveals the full extent of the EU maritime transport sectors impact on the environment and identifies challenges to achieving sustainability.
The report shows that ships produce 13.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions from transport in the EU, behind emissions from road transport (71%) and aviation (14.4%), while sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions from ships calling in European ports amounted to approximately 1.63 million tonnes in 2019, a figure expected to fall over the coming decades due to stricter environmental rules and measures.
The report assesses the current state of emerging maritime transport sustainability solutions, including alternative fuels, batteries and onshore power supply and provides a comprehensive picture of their uptake in the EU. Additionally, the report also outlines future challenges posed by climate change for the industry, including the potential impact of rising sea levels on ports.
Source: EEA, 1 September 2021
World Sepsis Day
World Sepsis Day is an initiative organised by the Global Sepsis Alliance (GSA) and takes place annually on 13 September. Sepsis arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. This potentially life-threatening condition follows a unique and time-critical clinical course, which in the early stages is highly amenable to treatment through early diagnosis and timely and appropriate clinical management.
The GSA are hoping World Sepsis Day 2021 will be an opportunity to educate more people on the condition, highlighting its role as the most common pathway to death from most infectious diseases worldwide, including SARS-CoV-2, malaria and Ebola, amongst others.