The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to affect almost all countries across the world. Most European countries imposed strict lockdown measures early in 2020 to contain and control the outbreak. In Europe, the initial peak of COVID-19 cases has passed and many countries, including the UK, are now either planning to ease their lockdown measures or have already begun to do so.
The pandemic led to unprecedented international border closures, with some travel restrictions being imposed without notice. Over the coming months these restrictions may lift, although they will remain subject to change. Full details of travel restrictions by country can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) information pages. As lockdown restrictions ease in the UK, many will be considering travel over the summer months, or reviewing pre-existing travel bookings. A new page, COVID-19 health considerations for travel, has been created on the fitfortravel website highlighting issues travellers should consider when deciding whether or not to pursue travel this summer.
As of 26 May 2020, the Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice issued by the FCO advising British nationals against all but essential travel worldwide remains in place.
On 22 May 2020, the UK Government home office announced self-isolation (quarantine) plans for all arrivals into the UK, including returning British nationals, commencing on 8 June 2020. These measures will be under review and should be checked both prior to travel and before returning home on the UK Government website.
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, 26 May 2020
The city government of Toyohashi, in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, has reported that a traveller from the Philippines has been diagnosed with rabies. The patient was bitten by a dog in the Philippines in September 2019, and arrived in Japan in February 2020 before showing symptoms of rabies on 11 May 2020. Analysis of the virus showed a strong similarity to known rabies viruses found in the Philippines. The patient remains seriously ill in hospital.
Travellers should be aware that any animal contact in a rabies endemic area poses a potential risk of infection and are advised to seek medical attention straightaway if bitten or scratched by an animal. They should also be aware that an effective rabies vaccination is available.
The risk of terrestrial rabies for any particular country can be checked on the individual pages of the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Post-exposure rabies guidance is available on the TRAVAX and fitfortravel websites.
Source: TRAVAX, 28 May 2020
According to data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, Gavi and the Sabin Vaccine Institute, provision of routine immunisation services owing to the COVID-19 pandemic is substantially hindered in at least 68 countries. This is likely to affect approximately 80 million children under the age of one.
Since March 2020, routine childhood immunisation services have been disrupted on a global scale that may be unprecedented since the inception of expanded programmes on immunisation (EPI) in the 1970s. More than half (53%) of the 129 countries where data were available reported moderate-to-severe disruptions, or a suspension of vaccination services, during March-April 2020.
There are a variety of reasons for the disruptions, including the reluctance of some parents to leave their homes because of restrictions on movement, lack of information or because they fear infection with coronavirus. Many health workers are unavailable because of restrictions on travel or redeployment to COVID-19 response duties. Delays in the transportation of vaccines in some countries are exacerbating the situation further.
Source: WHO, 22 May 2020
On 25 May 2020, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its yellow fever annual epidemiological report for 2018.
For 2018, EU/EEA countries reported 13 travel-related cases of yellow fever. There were seven cases reported by France, two in Germany and one each in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Romania and the UK. The case reported by the Netherlands acquired the infection in either Senegal or Gambia, with all other cases acquiring the infection in Brazil.
This was the highest number of yellow fever cases ever reported in the EU/EEA in one year. In the previous four years, the only case reported was in the Netherlands, where an imported case with a travel history to Suriname was recorded.
Source: ECDC, 25 May 2020
On 25 May 2020, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its gonorrhoea annual epidemiological report for 2018.
A total of 100,673 confirmed cases of gonorrhoea were reported by 28 EU/EEA member states for 2018, with an overall crude notification rate of 26.4 cases per 100,000 of the population. Compared to the previous year, this was an overall increase in the notification rate of 22%.
The rate of reported gonorrhoea infection varies across the EU/EEA, with higher rates reported in northern Europe. Men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for almost half (48%) of the reported cases.
This report follows the recent publication of the ECDC’s gonococcal antimicrobial susceptibility surveillance in Europe for 2018. This surveillance supports the detection of emerging and increasing antimicrobial resistance and makes data available to inform treatment guidelines.
Source: ECDC, 25 May 2020
The first annual progress report on Climate Ready Scotland: Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation programme 2019-2024 has been published. There are seven high-level outcomes within the report, covering Scotland's communities, businesses and natural environment, as well as engagement with international partners.
The report includes a risk assessment for Scotland which highlighted:
• the need for more action to address flood risks
• the potential for water scarcity
• heat related impacts on health and wellbeing
• risks to the natural environment
• risks of food price volatility
• new and emerging pest and disease risks, especially for Scotland's forestry
Source: Scottish Government, 29 May 2020
An outbreak of American foulbrood (AFB) has been found in an apiary near Blairgowrie. The infected hives were identified by two Scottish Government bee inspectors and belonged to a commercial beekeeper who also had AFB diagnosed in 2019 in apiaries around the Blairgowrie and Pitlochry areas.
AFB is a notifiable disease that affects colonies of honeybees. The infected hives will be destroyed as there is no permitted treatment for the disease in the UK.
Source: Scottish Government, 28 May 2020
The theme for World Environment Day 2020 is biodiversity, the foundation that supports all life on land and below water. The campaign will focus on ‘Time for Nature’ and aims to be a call to action in combating accelerated species loss and damage to the natural world. Organisers also hope to urge people across the world to reflect on how economic systems have evolved and the impact they have on the environment.
Source: World Environment Day, May 2020
The theme for World Oceans Day in 2020 is ‘Innovation for a sustainable ocean’. The aim of the campaign is to get governments worldwide to agree protection for at least 30% of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030, and preserve intact ecosystems and wilderness at the Convention on Biodiversity COP15 Summit in October 2020.
Source: World Oceans Day, May 2020