As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to evolve, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises British nationals against all but essential travel, exempting some countries that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers. This advice is being kept under constant review and may change at short notice.
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.
Since October 2020, the COVID-19 risk to UK travellers has decreased for the following countries:
- Australia (Victoria state)
- Canary Islands (Spain)
- Cayman Islands
- Greek islands of Crete, Lesvos, Milos (Serifos), Tinos, Santorini, Zakynthos and Mykonos
The COVID-19 risk rating and travel advice from the FCDO is being kept under constant review and may change at short notice. All travellers are advised to continue following sensible precautions and consider the following sources of information listed below.
Advice for travellers
Before planning or booking international travel, please check:
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.
On 21 October 2020, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative reported two cases of polio in Saadah province, Yemen. This brings the total number of cases in the country to 17.
Advice for travellers
- Poliomyelitis is spread mainly through person-to-person contact via the faecal-oral route.
- Travellers should be offered a booster dose of poliomyelitis vaccine if it has been more than ten years since their last dose.
Further information is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: TRAVAX, 26 October 2020
In the summer of 2019, there was an outbreak of listeriosis in England, during which seven patients died after eating hospital sandwiches contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Following this, an independent review of NHS hospital food in England was announced by UK Government Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.
On 26 October 2020, the final report of the review panel was published, detailing a number of recommendations to improve food safety in hospitals in England.
The recommendations include:
- ensuring there are dedicated food safety specialists in each NHS trust
- the implementation of robust food safety management systems by hospitals
- a compulsory function to report concerns across the entire hospital food chain
To coincide with the publication of the report, the Food Standards Authority (FSA) has published the evidence package it provided to inform the review panel’s discussions on food safety. The evidence sets out key findings from detailed reviews on previous outbreaks of foodborne illness in hospitals, and outlines the FSA’s advice on actions that should be taken to enhance food safety.
Source: FSA, 26 October 2020
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has published statistics providing details of household waste collected across all Scottish local authorities during 2019. Findings include:
- The total amount of household waste generated in Scotland was 2.4 million tonnes in 2019, an increase of 17,000 tonnes (1%) from 2018.
- In 2019, the Scottish household waste recycling rate was 44.9%, a slight increase from the 44.7% rate achieved in 2018. The amount of household waste recycled between 2018 and 2019 increased by 12,000 tonnes to 1.1 million tonnes.
- The amount of Scottish household waste landfilled in 2019 was 0.76 million tonnes, a reduction of 273,000 tonnes (26%) from 2018, and a reduction of 696,000 tonnes (48%) since 2011. This is the eighth consecutive decrease in household waste landfilled, and the first time that the amount of household waste landfilled was less than one million tonnes.
- For 2019, the total amount of Scottish household waste managed by other diversion from landfill was 577,000 tonnes, an increase of 278,000 tonnes (93%) from 2018. Most of the diverted waste in 2019 was managed by incineration (79%).
Source: SEPA, 27 October 2020
The Scottish Government has set a new ambition to increase offshore wind capacity to 11 gigawatts (GW) of energy installed by 2030, enough to power more than eight million homes. Currently, Scotland has 5.6GW of consented offshore capacity, of which 1GW is operational.
The aim of substantially increasing the offshore wind capacity in Scottish waters supports the delivery of Scotland’s 2017 Energy Strategy and the decarbonisation of heat and transport. This has been agreed following consultation with industry, stakeholders, coastal communities and environmental organisations.
Source: Scottish Government, 28 October 2020
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has developed land accounts that allow for assessing changes in land cover types. These changes can have environmental impacts, such as decline in biodiversity, reduced carbon stocks, or weakened capacity for food production and flood regulation. The briefing, ‘Land cover accounts – an approach to geospatial environmental accounting’, describes the use of the EEA’s integrated data platform and geospatial data for land accounting that aims to be transparent, repeatable and efficient.
In key messages from the report:
- Environmental impacts such as the loss of productive land, the decline in biodiversity and soil carbon stocks, flood regulation and other ecosystem services are related to land use and land use change in Europe.
- Satellite land cover data can support land use change monitoring. The data loaded in an accounting matrix show land cover gains and losses over time and can inform policy action on the main land use processes.
Source: EEA, 27 October 2020
The Scottish Government are seeking views on proposals for new or updated environmental standards for Scotland’s water environment, as well as updates to some of the assessment methods used for deriving such standards. In 2014, Scottish ministers directed the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to apply a range of environmental standards in protecting, improving and assessing the condition of the water environment. The Scottish Government is proposing to introduce a small number of changes to the 2014 standards and assessment methods, based on the latest scientific understanding of aquatic ecosystems, and taking account of the evidence gained from using the existing standards and environmental monitoring programmes from across the UK.
The proposed updates are:
- river fish statistical methodology
- river phytobenthos assessment method
- loch fish new eDNA assessment method
- loch morphology: bank protection assessment method
- introduction of spatial standards for fish barrier assessment
- new nitrogen standards for lochs
- invasive non-native species list
- river flow standards changes:
- artificially increased flows in high hydrological status waterbodies
- short term abstraction in good hydrological status waterbodies
The consultation is open until 11 December 2020. More information and the online consultation response form are available on the Scottish Government website.