30 June 2020
Volume: 54 Issue: 26
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update
- End of EVD outbreak in eastern DRC
- Hajj cancelled for British Muslims in the UK
- FSS launches food allergy training tool
- EFSA publish report on climate change as a driver of emerging risks for food and feed safety, plant, animal health and nutritional quality
- EEA publish briefing on municipal, construction and electronic waste recycling
- EEA publish report on the condition of Europe’s seas
HPS Weekly Report
30 Jun 2020
Volume 54 No. 26
Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to affect almost all countries around the world. Most European countries had imposed strict lockdown measures early in 2020 to contain and control the outbreak, however 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 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
End of EVD outbreak in eastern DRC
On 25 June 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that the outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) that began in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in August 2018 is now over. Since the beginning of the outbreak, there have been 3,463 cases, including 2,280 deaths. An unrelated outbreak of EVD continues in Equateur Province in northern DRC.
Advice for 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, 25 June 2020
Hajj cancelled for British Muslims in the UK
On 22 June 2020, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj & Umrah released an official statement which announced that, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia will not be permitted to enter the country to perform Hajj. Only a very limited number of Muslims, who already reside in Saudi Arabia, will be allowed to perform Hajj 1441H (2020). A ban on Umrah also remains in place.
This means 1441H (2020) Hajj packages for all international pilgrims, including those from the UK, have been automatically cancelled. On the 23 June 2020, in a press release from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hajj & Umrah, both Yasmin Qureshi MP and Rashid Mogradia, CEO of the Council of British Hajjis, have strongly urged pilgrims to check that they have a valid ATOL certificate which affords them financial protection.
Those that have booked to undertake Hajj this year should contact their airline, travel company or other transport and accommodation providers to seek a refund, or request to take their bookings forward for Hajj next year.
Source: TRAVAX, 25 June 2020
FSS launches food allergy training tool
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has developed a new online training tool to improve awareness about food allergens in manufacturing and catering settings.
The tool, primarily intended for local authority authorised officers and those working in the food industry in Scotland, comprises six modules and covers:
- legal requirements when selling food containing allergens
- physical reactions when people with allergies are exposed to allergens
- areas where allergens can impact in manufacturing and catering (factory) settings
- food labelling guidelines
- food composition
- providing consumers with allergen information
Source: FSS, 23 June 2020
EFSA publish report on climate change as a driver of emerging risks for food and feed safety, plant, animal health and nutritional quality
An international team of scientists, led by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), have developed a methodology to identify and define emerging risks for food and feed safety, plant and animal health, and nutritional quality related to climate change.
The approach of the CLimate change and Emerging risks for Food SAfety (CLEFSA) project is described in a new report, which includes scoresheets that characterise possible effects climate change could have on a wide range of food safety-related issues.
A webinar on the outcome of the project is planned later in 2020.
Source: EFSA, 25 June 2020
EEA publish briefing on municipal, construction and electronic waste recycling
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a briefing, which finds there is significant potential to increase municipal, construction and electronic waste recycling across Europe. Compared to the amounts currently recycled, the briefing suggests recycling of municipal and electronic waste could be doubled, while construction and demolition waste may be increased by 30%.
The briefing contains several key messages:
- The most important barrier to increasing recycling in these waste streams is the low market price of natural resources/raw materials.
- Another significant barrier is the mixed and complex composition of some waste products, making the recovery and reuse of materials challenging.
- Regulations requiring more frequent and higher quality separate collections, extended producer responsibility schemes and selective demolition practices can develop the potential to further increasing recycling. Such initiatives should be coupled with measures to improve the economics of recycling, remove hazardous substances from products and apply design-for-recycling concepts.
The briefing summarises the key findings of a technical report commissioned by the EEA and published in March 2020.
Source: EEA, 23 June 2020
EEA publish report on the condition of Europe’s seas
On 25 June 2020, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published a report, which found that the current condition of Europe’s seas is generally poor, with historic and current usage resulting in changes in the composition of marine species and habitats.
The report contains several key findings:
- The EU’s maritime economy continues to grow and the competition for marine resources like fish, fossil fuels, minerals or renewable energy production and space is expected to increase. This will add extra pressure on already overexploited marine ecosystems. To avoid this, growth in this sector needs to be decoupled from the degradation and depletion of the marine ecosystem and be contained within limits of sustainable use.
- Despite EU and global commitments, biodiversity loss in Europe’s seas has not been halted. A high number of marine species and habitat assessments continue to show an unfavourable conservation status.
- Management measures targeting individual marine species and habitats have led to improvements in their condition in some EU marine regions, but this fragmented success does not offset the combined effects of multiple pressures from human activities across all of Europe's seas.
- Where regional cooperation has been established and implemented consistently, negative trends in certain pressures are beginning to be reversed, for example, levels of nutrients and contaminants or the introduction of non‐indigenous species.
- Land-sea interactions, as well as the significance of coastal areas, are important dimensions to consider when actions are designed to reduce pressures on the marine environment.
The report concludes that, with political resolve, additional resources and increased coordination among stakeholders and policy integration, Europe can move towards a good condition for its seas within the existing EU policy framework by 2030. To achieve this goal, pressures on marine ecosystems must to be reduced. With its ambition to protect 30% of Europe’s seas, with 10% under strict protection, the new EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 brings a new impetus for reducing such pressures.
Source: EEA, 25 June 2020