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 be lifted, 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. The fitfortravel website has published information on COVID-19 health considerations for travel, highlighting issues travellers should consider when deciding whether or not to travel this summer. 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, would commence 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
On 1 June 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Mbandaka, Équateur Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This is in a different area from the previously reported large outbreak, which has been on-going in the east of the country since 2018.
As of 6 June 2020, a total of 12 cases including six deaths, have been reported in Bikoro, Mbandaka and Wangata health zones.
Advice to travellers
When Ebola outbreaks occur, generally the risk of travellers becoming infected or developing EVD is extremely low.
Travellers returning from an EVD outbreak area should seek rapid medical attention if they develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, diarrhoea or general malaise, within 21 days after return. They should call NHS24 (Scotland) or NHS111 (England and Wales) or contact their GP by telephone. While EVD infection is unlikely, the returning traveller should mention any potential exposure to the virus including dates and itinerary of travel.
Further information and advice is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: TRAVAX, 9 June 2020
A report by Forest Research shows that Scotland delivered over 80% of all new tree planting in the UK. In total, 10,860 hectares of new woodland, with nearly 22 million trees, were planted last year, the second highest level since 2001 The yearly target for native woodland creation was achieved with 4,529 hectares being created, around 42% of all the new woodland in Scotland.
It is hoped the new woodland will make an important contribution towards tackling the global climate emergency. Around 9.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are removed from the atmosphere from Scotland’s forests each year. Scotland’s forests cover 18.8% of the total land mass area and the ambition contained in the Scottish Government’s forestry strategy is to increase this to 21% by 2032.
Source: Scottish Forestry, 11 June 2020
A study conducted by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has found that over half of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) contain habitats vital for the nation’s future climate resilience. Forty-three percent of MPAs contain habitats such as sand banks, seaweed and other plant beds that play a role in protecting the coastline from severe weather events. Climate change is predicted to lead to an increase in the frequency of storm surges together with rising sea levels. The study also found that 29% of MPAs protect habitats such as coastal saltmarshes, seagrasses, salt water reedbeds and muddy habitats, which support the absorption and storage of carbon dioxide.
The study provides new tools for scientists to measure the impacts of climate change, such as increases in sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, ocean heatwaves and rising sea levels on marine sensitive habitats. These tools may be used to help in inform future protection measures.
Source: JNCC, 8 June 2020
A new report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) summarises the findings of a multiannual project exploring research, policy and practice on the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).The report is aimed at supporting the development of strategies to tackle this highly prevalent occupational safety and health issue in Europe’s workplaces.
The report identifies a number of gaps at policy and workplace levels, explaining why work-related MSDs are still a major problem despite efforts to prevent them. Further, the report makes recommendations on how to address shortcomings in current approaches, with specific legislation and guidance on implementation, a focus on risk assessment, prevention and ergonomics, sharing good practice and worker participation being identified as key.
Source: EU-OSHA, 9 June 2020
The Scottish Environmental Incident Surveillance System (SEISS) recorded the following incident in the past week:
- On 8 June 2020, the BBC reported that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) dealt with a fire at an industrial estate in Dundee on 7 June 2020. Four fire engines and other support vehicles were in attendance at Baldovie Industrial Estate, with firefighters remaining at the scene until the following morning.
More detailed information can be found on the SEISS website.