09 Jul 2020
Malaria reminder during COVID-19 pandemicAdvice for travellers and health professionals
- This updates the news item of 19 March 2020
Malaria is a preventable, potentially fatal illness. Reducing deaths from imported malaria relies on:
- Good malaria prevention advice and adherence
- Febrile returning travellers seeking prompt healthcare
- Prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria
Last year there was a marked increase in the number of notified malaria deaths in the UK; from the annual average of six to 15 patients . The Malaria Reference Laboratory is currently investigating the reasons for these deaths.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals present with a fever. Some will have Plasmodium falciparum malaria which will prove fatal if it is not diagnosed and treated.
Advice for travellers
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated the Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice advising all British people against all non-essential travel worldwide . As of 4 July 2020, some destinations that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers are exempt. This will remain under constant review to take into account the latest situation in each country. Further information and details of the exempted countries and territories can be found on the GOV.UK website .
Each of our Country Information pages are classified as high, moderate or low risk of exposure to COVID-19 based on currently available information assessed by Public Health England and the National Travel Health Network and Centre.
Travel to many of the malaria affected countries/areas is not currently recommended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if your travel is essential, ensure that you follow all the important steps for malaria prevention:
A - Awareness of the malaria risk at your chosen destination
B - Bite prevention
C - Chemoprophylaxis (appropriate choice of antimalarial medication and compliance with the regime)
D - Diagnosis (prompt diagnosis and treatment without delay)
In the current emergency, please be aware that if you have returned from a malarious area in the last six months and have fever, you need a malaria film the same day that you develop fever.
Travellers returning from malaria risk areas who are ill should seek urgent medical advice and inform the health professional that they have travelled to a malarious area in the last six months.
If you have a fever and are phoning NHS 111 for advice, please state that you have returned from a malaria area and need a malaria film. They will advise how you can travel safely to your local A&E department for this to be carried out.
Individual country specific malaria risk and prevention advice is available in the Country Information pages.
Advice for health professionals
All those being assessed for possible COVID-19 must be asked if they have travelled abroad in the last 6 months. If their itinerary included a malarious country, they must have a blood test result for malaria on the same day.