22 February 2022
Volume: 56 Issue: 7
- PHS publishes recommendations for the management of Afghan entrants TB screening
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update
- Lassa fever cases identified in England
- ECDC publishes EQA schemes to support European surveillance of Legionnaires’ disease
- WHO’s ICD-11 comes into effect
- EEA publishes briefing on managing air quality in Europe
- Digital waste tracking consultation
HPS Weekly Report
22 Feb 2022
Volume 56 No. 7
PHS publishes recommendations for the management of Afghan entrants TB screening
On 18 February 2022, Public Health Scotland (PHS) published recommendations on the management of tuberculosis (TB) screening for those arriving from Afghanistan into Scotland under the UK Government’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme. This scheme is also applicable to entrants from other high-incidence countries.
Afghanistan has a high incidence of TB, estimated by the World Health Organization at 189 per 100,000 of the population. Due to the emergency nature of the evacuations, few individuals will have undergone the required pre-entry screening for pulmonary TB.
Further supporting materials will be made available shortly and the PHS team can be contacted with any enquiries.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update
International travel continues to be impacted due to COVID-19, and the number of variant strains which have emerged globally. Guidance on international travel is available for people living in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Since 11 February 2022, the rules for international travellers arriving in the UK have changed. In Scotland, travellers who are fully vaccinated no longer need to take a COVID-19 test within two days of arrival in the UK, but still must complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) in the 48 hours before travelling. Summaries are available detailing the changes for travellers arriving into Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Country specific COVID-19 risk
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. This risk-rating identifies each country as having either:
- a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 for UK travellers, or
- a risk of exposure to COVID-19 for UK travellers
For all countries, travellers should be aware that the risk of COVID-19 may change at short notice. Countries categorised as high-risk either have a greater risk of travellers being exposed to COVID-19, or an increased risk of emerging, or known variants, of coronavirus. Travellers should be advised to avoid non-essential travel to high-risk countries, even if fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
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.
- The FCDO foreign travel advice country pages have up-to-date information on 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 COVID-19 health considerations for travel page.
Source: TRAVAX, 1 February 2022
Lassa fever cases identified in England
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has reported three recently confirmed cases of Lassa fever in England, including one death. The cases are within the same family and have been linked with recent travel to West Africa.
Lassa fever is a type of viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) endemic in parts of West Africa and is transmitted via the urine or droppings from infected rodents (Mastomys rats). Transmission can also occur via body fluids of infected people.
The UKHSA advise that the risk to the public remains very low.
Source: UKHSA, 16 February 2022
ECDC publishes EQA schemes to support European surveillance of Legionnaires’ disease
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published external quality assessment (EQA) schemes to support European surveillance of Legionnaires’ disease, presenting an analysis of participants’ results for the 2020 to 2021 EQA exercises in EU and EEA countries.
Results cover the detection and isolation, identification, enumeration and quantification of Legionella spp. and the further characterisation of L. pneumophila, by serogrouping and sequence-based typing, from both clinical and environmental samples.
Source: ECDC, 14 February 2022
WHO’s ICD-11 comes into effect
On 11 February 2022, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Eleventh Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) came into effect. The ICD, which provides a common language that supports health professionals to share standardised information across the world, is a source for identifying health trends and statistics worldwide, containing around 17,000 unique codes for injuries, diseases and causes of death, underpinned by more than 120,000 codable terms. By using code combinations, more than 1.6 million clinical situations can now be coded.
Unlike previous versions, ICD-11 is entirely digital with a new format and multilingual capabilities that is hoped will reduce the risk of error. ICD-11 has been compiled and updated with input from over 90 countries and the involvement of healthcare providers.
Source: WHO, 11 February 2022
EEA publishes briefing on managing air quality in Europe
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a briefing which reviews the status of 944 air quality plans reported to them between 2014 and 2020, covering 21 EU member states, as well as Norway and the UK.
The briefing contains a number of key findings.
- Most air quality plans explicitly aim to protect health, with the majority focusing on reducing levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and coarse particulate matter (PM10).
- 64% of all exceedances reported were linked to emissions from road traffic, which was the main cause of NO2 exceedances.
- Domestic heating was linked to 14% of all exceedances and was the main cause of PM10 exceedances.
- Over two-thirds of measures included in air quality plans focused on the transport sector. Only 12% focused on commercial and residential energy sectors linked to domestic heating.
- Public awareness of air pollution is important for gaining support towards improving air quality.
Source: EEA, 16 February 2022
Digital waste tracking consultation
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has launched a UK wide consultation on the introduction of mandatory digital waste tracking. Over 200 million tonnes of waste are produced in the UK each year but there is currently no single or comprehensive way of tracking it, with legislation relating to the transport, management and description of waste being introduced separately over the last 30 years.
The consultation is seeking views on the practical aspects of implementing digital waste tracking across the UK including:
- what waste activities and information will need to be recorded
- what current waste reporting will be replaced by the new service
- how users will be able to enter information onto the service
- who will be required to enter information and when this will be expected
- alternative provisions for digitally excluded waste holders
- data access controls
- cost recovery
- compliance and enforcement
- how the service should go live
The responses received will help inform the design of the service, refine the proposals and produce regulations to support the waste tracking service. The consultation is open until 15 April 2022.
Source: SEPA, 14 February 2022