20 April 2021
Volume: 55 Issue: 16
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update
- World Malaria Day 2021
- WHO calls for comprehensive and equitable access to healthcare for Chagas disease patients
- ECDC publishes epidemiological reports for 2019
- WHO reports on benefits of continuing HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic
- WHO publishes annual review of antibacterial agents in clinical and pre-clinical development
- EEA reports on how nature-based solutions can play a role in tackling climate change
HPS Weekly Report
20 Apr 2021
Volume 55 No. 16
Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update
Travel restrictions and self-isolation (quarantine) rules have been implemented across the UK since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of the public. The range and type of measures vary across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The current UK travel restrictions are stringent and in place to avoid new variants being imported into the UK, and to avoid UK travellers exporting the UK variant during international travel.
Prior to travelling to the UK, all travellers must:
- take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test and get a negative result during the three days before travel to the UK
- book an accommodation and testing package through the UK Government portal
- complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) declaring which countries have been visited in the ten days prior to arriving in the UK
All travellers arriving into the UK must:
- quarantine for ten days
- take coronavirus (COVID-19) tests on days two and eight of quarantine
- follow the national lockdown rules for the UK four-nations country they arrive in
- For travellers arriving from, or that have been in a red list country where travel to the UK has been banned in the last ten days, quarantine must take place in managed hotel accommodation
Quarantine rules differ for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, therefore prior to travel, travellers must ensure they are able to comply with the rules appropriate to the UK nation they will be arriving in and reside in, if different.
Country specific COVID-19 risk
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 15 April 2021, the COVID-19 risk to UK travellers has been increased for the Canary Islands (Spain) and Thailand, while the risk has been decreased for Gibraltar.
Advice for travellers
It is advised that travellers be made aware of precautions they should take to reduce their risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) before, during and after travel, as detailed on the fitfortravel website.
Source: TRAVAX, 1 April 2021
World Malaria Day 2021
World Malaria Day takes place on 25 April 2021, with the World Health Organization (WHO) and their partners this year celebrating the achievements of countries that are approaching, and achieving, malaria elimination. The WHO highlights that, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of these countries reported zero indigenous malaria cases in 2020, while others have made progress towards becoming malaria-free.
Ahead of World Malaria Day, country leaders, frontline health workers and global partners are invited to come together in a virtual forum to share experiences and reflections on efforts to reach the target of zero malaria. The event will be co-hosted by the WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria on 21 April 2021.
Source: WHO, April 2021
WHO calls for comprehensive and equitable access to healthcare for Chagas disease patients
World Chagas Disease Day took place on 14 April 2021, with the World Health Organization (WHO) calling for comprehensive and equitable access to health care and services for everyone affected by the disease. An estimated six-to-seven million people worldwide are infected by Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease. It is a chronic and potentially severe parasitic disease, which is mainly transmitted by contact with the faeces and urine of infected reduviid bugs.
Chagas disease remains a public health problem in several endemic areas of continental Latin America, where the burden on the health system is high. Over the past decades, Chagas disease has been detected in several countries outside Latin America, including the US, Canada, and in many European and some African, Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific countries.
Further information and advice on Chagas disease is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: WHO, 14 April 2021
ECDC publishes epidemiological reports for 2019
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published 2019 annual epidemiological reports for:
- Chikungunya virus disease - 15 countries reported 516 cases in the EU and EEA, of which 421 (82%) were confirmed. The number of cases was higher than in 2018, but comparable to 2016 and 2017, with the notification rate being 0.1 cases per 100,000 of the population. Of the cases with known probable country of infection, 78% were imported from Asia, mostly from Thailand, India and Myanmar. No autochthonous transmission of chikungunya virus occurred within the EU or EEA in 2019.
- Dengue - 27 countries reported 4,363 cases of dengue in the EU and EEA, of which 4,020 (92%) were confirmed, and the notification rate being 0.9 cases per 100,000 of the population. Of the cases with known probable country of infection, 64% were imported from Asia, mostly from Thailand and India. Twelve autochthonous dengue cases were reported from the EU or EEA. Most autochthonous dengue cases were the result of the virus being transmitted by a mosquito vector.
Sources: ECDC, 14 April 2021 and ECDC, 14 April 2021
WHO reports on benefits of continuing HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic
UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) have reported on the use of HIV and COVID-19 simulation models, which estimate the benefits of continuing HIV services, in terms of fewer new HIV infections and deaths, against the additional estimated deaths due to COVID-19 transmission among health workers and clients. The analysis predicts that maintaining HIV services would avert between 19 and 146 AIDS-related deaths per 10,000 people over a 50-year time horizon, while the additional COVID-19-related deaths from exposures related to HIV services would be 0.002 to 0.15 per 10,000 people. UNAIDS and the WHO conclude that the analysis demonstrates that the benefits of continuing to provide HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic outweigh the risk of additional COVID-19-related deaths.
The analysis looked at disruptions to four key HIV services, voluntary medical male circumcision, HIV diagnostic testing, viral load testing and programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The analysis also compared COVID-19 deaths in 2020 and 2021 among health workers and clients due to keeping HIV services open, with averted AIDS-related deaths occurring now and over the next 50 years due to maintenance of services.
Source: WHO, 13 April 2021
WHO publishes annual review of antibacterial agents in clinical and pre-clinical development
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published its annual review of the clinical and pre-clinical antibacterial pipelines, evaluating the potential of candidates in different stages of development. This report is the WHO’s fourth annual analysis of the clinical antibacterial pipeline, and the second review of the pre-clinical pipeline. The evaluation covers traditional and non-traditional antibacterial agents in clinical and pre-clinical development worldwide, and assesses to what extent the clinical pipeline addresses WHO priority pathogens, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Clostridioides difficile.
The WHO outlines a near static pipeline, with only a few antibiotics being approved by regulatory agencies in recent years. They report that most of the agents in development offer limited clinical benefit over existing treatments, with 82% of recently approved antibiotics being derivatives of existing antibiotic classes with well-established drug-resistance.
Source: WHO, 15 April 2021
EEA reports on how nature-based solutions can play a role in tackling climate change
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a report on the policy, knowledge and practice surrounding nature-based solutions and their role in reducing the impact of climate change. The EEA highlight that many European countries are already incorporating nature-based solutions, including restoring river valleys and uplands to reduce downstream flooding risks, and using natural vegetation to help stabilise coastlines. The report notes that despite increasing prominence, nature-based solutions could be mainstreamed further.
The report provides up-to-date information for policymakers on how to apply nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, as well as highlighting the societal benefits these solutions may achieve.
Source: EEA, 15 April 2021