The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to affect countries across the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) produces daily situation reports, listing all affected countries and the number of confirmed cases.
The pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures, and all countries may impose travel restrictions without notice. Consequently, the associated Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Exceptional Travel Advisory Notices still stand. British nationals are advised against all non-essential travel worldwide, and those already abroad should return to the UK if commercial flights are still available.
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, 6 May 2020
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reports continued transmission of dengue in the French Antilles, with the islands of Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy and Martinque affected so far. In the period 29 March to 18 April 2020, there were 1,177 cases of suspected dengue reported, with an additional 977 suspected cases recorded between 18 April and 3 May 2020. There have been no reports of associated deaths.
Dengue is a commonly identified cause of febrile illness in returning travellers. All travellers to endemic regions are potentially at risk of dengue fever and should be aware of this infection. Prevention relies on avoiding mosquito bites at all times.
Travellers developing a fever during or on return from travel are advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
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 the current vaccine strains, summarise the development of the viruses since the last report and closely follow the main developments for the ongoing influenza season.
On 13 May 2020, the ECDC published the sixth virus characterisation report for the 2019-20 influenza season. As of week 18/2020, a total of 162,345 influenza detections across the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region had been reported. Of these, 73% were type A viruses, with A(H1N1)pdm09 prevailing over A(H3N2), and 27% were type B viruses, with 4,418 (98%) of 4,505 ascribed to a lineage being B/Victoria.
Source: ECDC, 13 May 2020
The European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a scientific opinion on public health risks related to the presence of Ochratoxin A (OTA) in food. OTA is a mycotoxin naturally produced by moulds found in a variety of foodstuffs, including cereals, preserved meats, fresh and dried fruit, and cheese.
In its previous assessment of OTA in food in 2006, the EFSA established a tolerable weekly intake (TWI) based on toxicity and carcinogenicity to the kidney. New data that have become available since this last assessment suggest that OTA can be genotoxic by directly damaging DNA, as well as being carcinogenic to the kidney. Researchers have now calculated a margin of exposure (MOE), a tool used by risk assessors to consider possible safety concerns arising from the presence in food and feed of substances which are both genotoxic and carcinogenic. The MOE is a ratio of two factors which assesses for a given population the dose at which a small but measurable adverse effect is first observed, and the level of exposure to the substance considered.
This new assessment concludes that OTA does present a health concern for most consumer groups. The EFSA’s scientific advice will inform the European Commission in the ongoing discussion on maximum levels of OTA in foodstuffs.
Source: EFSA, 13 May 2020
The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Barometer is the first data visualisation tool with up-to-date information on the status of and trends in OSH in European countries.
The tool consists of four groups of indicators on a range of OSH topics, such as OSH authorities, national strategies, working conditions and OSH statistics, and can be used to visualise and compare data, generate graphics and download reports on specific topics. The OSH Barometer is updated regularly with new indicators, data and features.
Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 13 May 2020