HPS Weekly Report
04 May 2021
Volume 55 No. 18
Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update
Travel restrictions and self-isolation (quarantine) rules continue to be enforced in order to help reduce the global spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of the UK public. Within the UK restrictions are gradually beginning to ease, with different timetables in place for 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. Under these restrictions, only UK travellers who have a reasonable excuse to travel abroad can currently do so, and it remains illegal to travel abroad for holidays.
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
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.
Travellers arriving from, or that have been in a red list (acute risk) country where travel to the UK has been banned in the last ten days, will currently be refused entry to the UK. British or Irish nationals, and those who have residence rights in the UK, will be able to enter, but the ten-day quarantine period must take place in government approved managed hotel accommodation. The list of countries on the red list is continuously being reviewed and updated, and may change at short notice.
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.
During April 2021, the COVID-19 risk to UK travellers was decreased in eight countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Falkland Islands
- St Lucia
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- US Virgin Islands
Since 29 April 2021, the COVID-19 risk to UK travellers has been increased in Anguilla and Mongolia.
Advice for travellers
It is advised that travellers are aware of all travel restrictions, self-isolation rules and precautions they should take, in order to reduce their risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) before, during and after travel, as detailed on the fitfortravel website.
Source: TRAVAX, 30 April 2021
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and have been rescheduled to be held between 23 July and 8 August 2021.
On 20 March 2021, the Five Parties, comprising the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020 and the Government of Japan, issued a statement announcing that overseas spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games will not be allowed entry into Japan. This decision has been taken to help ensure the safety of both participants and the Japanese public. Olympic and Paralympic tickets purchased by overseas residents from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee will be refunded.
The Tokyo 2020 Playbooks outline the responsibilities of all participants and the health and safety rules that must be followed, including information specific to COVID-19 precautions. The playbooks will be updated when further information is available.
Source: TRAVAX, 26 April 2021
WHO publishes global leprosy strategy
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a new strategy to achieve interruption of transmission and zero new cases for leprosy in more than 100 countries by 2030. The strategy was developed through a consultative process with major stakeholders during 2019 and 2020, with input from national leprosy programme managers, technical agencies, public health and leprosy experts, funding agencies, and persons or members of communities directly affected by leprosy.
The strategy is built on four principles, which include interventions to:
- implement integrated, country-owned zero leprosy road maps in all endemic countries
- scale-up leprosy prevention alongside integrated active case detection
- manage leprosy and its complications and prevent new disability
- combat stigma and ensure human rights are respected
The key targets of the strategy include:
- 120 countries to achieve zero autochthonous cases
- the number of new cases reduced to around 63,000 worldwide
- the rate of new Grade II disability (G2D) cases reduced to 0.12 per million of the population
- the rate of detection of new cases in children reduced to 0.77 per million of the child population
Source: WHO, 26 April 2021
WHO World Hand Hygiene Day 2021
On 5 May 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) World Hand Hygiene Day takes place. This year, the WHO is calling on healthcare workers and facilities to achieve effective hand hygiene action at the point of care under the slogan ‘Seconds save lives – clean your hands’.
The campaign has two main objectives:
- To engage multiple audiences, highlighting their role in achieving effective hand hygiene action at the point of care, according to the WHO multimodal hand hygiene improvement strategy.
- To support implementation of the WHO 2020 recommendation for universal hand hygiene and of the WHO/UNICEF Hand Hygiene for All initiative in healthcare facilities.
Source: WHO, April 2021
HSE publishes Annual Science Review 2021
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its Annual Science Review for 2021, focusing on the ways science and evidence is being used to prevent death, injury and ill-health in Great Britain’s workplaces.
The review illustrates how HSE’s scientific evidence has been supporting the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- work to support the rapid increase in supply of suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS front line
- biosafety training in relation to COVID-19, including workers handling bulk quantities of live virus for vaccine research
- enabling additional hand sanitisers to reach the market quickly
- developing an understanding of transmission through computational fluid dynamics simulations
- supporting and informing the Scientific Advice to Government in Emergencies (SAGE) response to COVID-19
The review also highlights the range of studies HSE scientists are working on to support healthy and safe work in Great Britain, including:
- the safe introduction of hydrogen technologies and supporting the UK target to achieve net-zero emissions
- assessing the evidence for safe levels of exposure to toxicological hazards
- the evidence supporting a campaign that reduced the risk of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks
Source: HSE, 28 April 2021
African swine fever: risks from feed, bedding and transport
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published new advice looking at the risk of African swine fever (ASF) being introduced to non-affected regions of the EU via pathways such as feed, bedding materials and empty pig transport vehicles returning from affected areas.
The potential for transmission through these pathways is lower than for several others, such as moving live domestic pigs or allowing contact between wild boar and domestic pigs, but the risk cannot be completely excluded. Compound feed (mash, pellets), feed additives and vehicles were most likely to become contaminated by the virus in ASF-affected areas and infected pigs in non-affected areas.
To reduce the risk of the virus being introduced to pig farms, EFSA recommends strict adherence to relevant decontamination and storage processes for all products moved from ASF-affected areas to unaffected areas.
Source: EFSA, 27 April 2021