International travel continues to be impacted due to COVID-19, with many countries having rules and restrictions in place for arriving international travellers. Guidance on international travel is available for people living in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Travelling abroad from the UK during COVID-19:
Prior to booking travel abroad, travellers should be advised to consider the following steps:
- Review the FCDO foreign travel advice country pages for the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings:
- Travellers should check the advice for each of the countries they intend to travel or transit through.
- The ‘Entry Requirements’ section will advise if the country is currently allowing UK travellers to enter.
- Travellers should be aware that travel regulations may change at short notice.
- Check the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at their destination:
- Country pages on the fitfortravel (for the general public) and TRAVAX (for health professionals) websites include a COVID-19 country specific risk-rating, which identifies the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for UK travellers. This information is listed in the Alerts section on each individual fitfortravel country page and the Emerging Health Risks section of each individual TRAVAX country page.
- 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.
- Travellers should consider their risk of developing severe COVID-19 and check the availability of medical facilities at their destination.
- Ensure they have adequate travel insurance.
- Check the entry requirement rules for re-entering the UK:
- Consider other health risks when travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- It is important to remind travellers that they may be exposed to a range of illnesses and health risks during travel, other than COVID-19.
- All travellers should comply with local public health requirements, such as physical distancing, wearing of face coverings and self-isolation in the country they are visiting. Good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene measures should be maintained at all times, regardless of vaccination status or previous recovery from COVID-19 infection.
It is advised that travellers are aware of all travel restrictions 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 COVID-19 health considerations for travel page.
Source: TRAVAX, 8 March 2022
The Kenyan government has declared an outbreak of yellow fever in Isiolo County, to the north of Nairobi. Since 12 January 2022, there have been 15 cases in the area, including three deaths.
A public health alert has been raised in all 47 counties of Kenya, particularly in the high-risk counties of Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Garissa, Marsabit, Meru, Samburu, Turkana, Wajir and West Pokot.
Yellow fever is endemic in Kenya, although outbreaks are uncommon.
Advice for travellers
Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease which is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, and is found in tropical areas of Africa, and Central and South America. All travellers to these areas are advised to practice mosquito bite avoidance at all times.
A traveller's risk of yellow fever is determined by their individual risk assessment. Factors that will influence their risk includes:
- country or countries to be visited
- length of stay
- rate of transmission at destination
- immunisation status
- planned activities
Unvaccinated travellers that visit yellow fever endemic areas are at risk of becoming infected, so yellow fever vaccine is recommended, unless contraindicated, for travellers at risk.
Further advice and information on yellow fever is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: TRAVAX, 8 March 2022
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published an updated position paper on the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine, which includes the October 2021 recommendation calling for the wider use of the vaccine among children living in areas of moderate-to-high Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission. The paper complements the recent addition of the recommendation to the WHO malaria guidelines.
The WHO report that the vaccine is a major step forward for malaria control, child health and health equity, and if implemented broadly, could save tens of thousands of lives each year.
Source: WHO, 4 March 2022
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have published a joint report on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the EU and EEA, which calls for a One Health response.
The report finds that overall consumption of antibiotics in humans in the EU and EEA decreased by 23% between 2011 and 2020, with the mean total consumption of antibiotics dropping by almost 18% between 2019 and 2020. However, relative use of broad-spectrum antibiotics has increased and significant variability across countries suggests that reductions are still possible. Efforts to reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics in food-producing animals have resulted in a 43% decrease in use between 2011 and 2020 in the 25 countries with consistent reporting.
Despite reductions in antibiotic consumption in both humans and food-producing animals, AMR in bacteria from humans in the EU and EEA has increased for many antibiotic-bacterium combinations since 2011. The report highlights concern about the rise in resistance to critically important antibiotics used to treat common healthcare-associated infections.
The report concludes that evidence that AMR can spread between animals, humans and the environment is mounting. Reducing the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals, replacing them where possible and rethinking the livestock production system in a One Health approach is essential for the future of animal and public health.
Source: ECDC, 7 March 2022
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) periodically publishes influenza characterisation reports, giving an overview of circulating influenza viruses. These reports provide details on current vaccine strains, summarise the development of viruses since the last report and closely follow the main developments for the ongoing influenza season.
On 10 March 2022, the ECDC published the fourth virus characterisation period report for the 2021 to 2022 influenza season. As of week eight of 2022, 44,665 influenza detections across the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region had been reported. Of these, 97% were type A viruses, with A(H3N2) dominating over A(H1N1)pdm09, and 3% were type B viruses, with 19 having been ascribed to a lineage, all of which were B/Victoria. This represents an increase of 6,273% in detections compared to the 2020−2021 season, on the back of an increase of 383% in the number of samples tested.
Source: ECDC, 11 March 2022
The European Food Safety Authority (EFAS) has published a scientific opinion on the high-pressure processing (HPP) of food, finding it to be an effective method of destroying harmful microorganisms. HPP is a non-thermal food preservation technique that kills the microorganisms that can cause diseases or spoil food. It uses intense pressure for a specific length of time, and has minimal effects on taste, texture, appearance, or nutritional values.
EFSA report that HPP can be used at different steps of the food chain, usually on pre-packed products. It can be applied to raw materials such as milk, fruit juices and smoothies, but also to products that have already been processed, such as sliced cooked meat products and ready-to-eat (RTE) meals. In the latter case, it can reduce the contamination originating from the manufacturing environment, for example during slicing and manipulation of products.
EFSA found that HPP can reduces levels of Listeria monocytogene in RTE meat products, at specific time-pressure combinations defined in the scientific opinion. In general, the longer the duration and intensity of the pressure, the more reduction is achieved. HPP also proved to be effective at decreasing the levels of other pathogens, such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli.
HPP is not specifically regulated at EU level and EFSA’s advice will inform the possible decisions of risk managers in this field.
Source: EFSA, 8 March 2022
The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a new repository on urban health, providing access to a broad range of WHO-generated resources which aim to enhance local action for health. Over 55% of the world’s population live in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. The WHO has created the repository in response to this growth and the need for strengthened support to address health at the urban level.
The repository is a living resource, open to modifications and additions, and it will be regularly updated when new products become available. It covers topics such as urban planning, housing, environmental issues, transport and mobility, nutrition, physical activity, COVID-19 and others. The search engine allows users to access existing WHO materials by health topic category, product type, geographical area and year of publication or development.
Source: WHO, 7 March 2022
The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has launched a consultation on the storage and treatment of healthcare waste. All those who collect, transport, store, treat and dispose of healthcare waste are being encouraged to respond.
The consultation is linked to new guidance designed to help operators understand and meet their compliance obligations, and ensure waste is managed in a way that minimises pollution of the environment and harm to human health.
The consultation is open until 29 April 2022.
Source: SEPA, 9 March 2022
The Scottish Environmental Incident Surveillance System (SEISS) has recorded the following incident:
On 8 March 2022, BBC News reported that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) responded to a large wildfire on Knockfarrel Hill, between Dingwall and Strathpeffer. SFRS tackled the fire on an open area of gorse on two fronts of about 600m and 800m long. The incident came during an SFRS extreme warning of wildfire risk in west, north and north-east Scotland.
More detailed information can be found on the SEISS website.