A monthly update on disease outbreaks around the world, from our Lead Nurse JO THOMPSON.


COVID-19 Update

  • The first case of Coronavirus was reported on 31 December 2019 in Wuhan city in China. It has since spread worldwide.
  • As of 26th February 2021, there have been 112,649,371 confirmed cases of Coronavirus worldwide with over 2.5 million deaths.  
  • There have been new variants in England, Brazil and South Africa. Due to these variants, additional travel restrictions are imposed in many countries. 
  • Travellers are reminded that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are travel and border restrictions, the FCO  advises British nationals against all but essential international travel to many locations. These are under constant review. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice. COVID free certificates may be required for entry to countries so please check the FCO website. Follow local Government guidance on COVID in each country.
  • From the 18th January 2021, any international traveller arriving into England, will need to present a negative coronavirus certificate within 72 hours of departure. You will also need to isolate for 10 days when arriving. You can have a COVID-19 test to release after 5 days. More Information here. If you arrive from a 'red list country' then you need to self isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel or in a place that you are staying and have a test on day 2 and 8. 
  • COVID-19 is spread via droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Practice good respiratory etiquette and do not touch your face.
  • A reminder of the common symptoms: high fever, new continuous cough, loss of or change in normal sense of taste or smell.
  • Remember - HAND HYGIENE - Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas.  Use alcohol based hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to. 
  • Remember - RESPIRATORY HYGIENE - To reduce the spread of germs where a mask in public places. When you cough or sneeze, if not wearing a mask, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve, and throw the tissue in a bin immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser. 
  • Remember - GENERAL HYGIENE - Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.
  • Remember - KEEP DISTANCE - try to keep at least 2 metre away from people not in your household bubble
  • Remember - VENTILATION - try open windows where able, to limit transmission.
  • Please remember to follow your local Government guidelines on coronavirus precautions.
  • If you are in the UK: The UK government states -  If you have these symptoms, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for at least 10 days from when the symptoms started.  If you live with others then all your household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.  If your symptoms worsen or are no better after 10 days then contact NHS 111.  If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 then please arrange for a test via NHS.uk or phone 119.
  • An information sheet on COVID-19  is available to download here
  • You can also visit our website for more resources related to COVID-19 here.
  • More information can be found here: WHONHSFCO

Rift Valley Fever in Kenya

  • Between 19 November 2020 and 4 February 2021, there have been 32 human cases and 11 deaths in Isiolo and Mandera counties of Kenya.
  • Rift Valley fever is a zoonotic viral infection that may rarely cause fatal hemorrhagic fever. 
  • The risk to travellers is very rare. The risk increases in those visiting an area experiencing an outbreak and having contact with infected animals/humans or their tissues. 
  • Those at increased risk of infection should be advised to avoid direct contact with infected animals and animal tissues.  Avoid drinking unpasteurised milk and consuming raw meat products. 
  • There is no vaccine available. 
  • More information about Rift Valley Fever can be found here.

Ebola Outbreak in Guinea and DRC

  • There is a reported Ebola outbreak in N’Zerekore Region in Guinea on the 14th February 2021. There have been 7 cases so far with 7 confirmed cases and 5 deaths.  All these people attended an unsafe burial. These are the first cases since the outbreak in 2014-2016.
  • DRC have declared a new Ebola outbreak following confirmation of a new case in North Kivu Province on the 7th February 2021. To date the infection is still under investigation.
  • Ebola viral disease is a type of viral hemorrhagic fever. The risk to travellers becoming infected or developing Ebola is extremely low.  
  • Travellers to an infected area must know about the risks and precautions. More information here.
  • Individuals planning to go to an outbreak area for humanitarian activities, should follow their organisations advice.  PHE is operating a returning workers scheme for humanitarian and healthcare workers after completing their deployments.  Deploying organisations are asked to register their workers with the scheme in advance of their return to the UK. Further information on the returning workers scheme is available from the PHE. 
  • Travellers returning from an Ebola outbreak area should seek rapid medical attention by contacting NHS 111 for advice prior to attending a medical facility if they develop a fever and have returned within 21 days from an outbreak area or have had contact with an infected individual.
  • More information about the outbreak can be found here

El-Salvador Declared Malaria-Free

  • On the 25 February 2021, the WHO officially certified El-Salvador as malaria free.  Having gradually reduced its malaria burden over the past 30 years.
  • There has been no transmission of the malaria for at least 3 years
  • It is the first Central American country to achieve malaria elimination 
  • However mosquito bite avoidance is still recommended as other mosquito-borne infections remain present. 

Information from Travel Health Pro, World Health Organisation, Travax and Fit for Travel.