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Official Vet: news and updates

01 June 2020, at 7:55am

Vets welcome pragmatic amendments to bovine TB testing during COVID-19 outbreak

The BVA has welcomed temporary amendments to bovine tuberculosis (TB) testing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that will allow herd tests to continue while maintaining the safety of farmers and vets during the COVID-19 pandemic. It follows campaigning by the veterinary profession to allow a greater number of TB herd tests to be completed safely.

The new measures in England and Wales, announced by APHA, came into force on 4 May. These measures allow calves under 180 days old to be excluded from certain routine and targeted surveillance TB skin tests in Officially TB Free (OTF) herds if, in the vet’s judgement, they can’t be tested safely in line with government social distancing guidance. No movement restrictions will be placed on herds as long as the other eligible (older) animals in the herd have been TB tested with negative results within the relevant testing window.

In Northern Ireland, DAERA has introduced measures whereby TB testing is being allowed to proceed only in exceptional circumstances where it can be carried out safely. As of yesterday, calves under 180 days old may be exempt from all TB herd test types if they cannot be tested in accordance with public health guidance. Herds with clear tests will retain or regain their OTF status and can trade freely, with the exception of untested calves aged between 42 and 180 days. The untested calves will be restricted and cannot be traded until they can be tested safely with a negative result.

In Scotland, normal TB testing procedures still apply. If it’s not possible to safely TB test calves whilst maintaining social distancing, vets must record this on the test chart and the test will be incomplete. If it is not completed within the testing window, then the whole test will become overdue.

BVA’s guide for farm vets and Official Veterinarians on assessing essential care during the COVID-19 pandemic is available to view online. More information is also available in the BVA’s coronavirus FAQs. APHA is continuing to update its OV briefings for TB testing in England, Wales and Scotland, which can be found online as well.

OV briefings

26 MARCH 2020

Conditional authorisation and revalidation deadlines for the OCQ(V) – TT extended due to COVID-19

All Official Controls Qualification (Veterinary) - Tuberculin Testing (OCQ(V) – TT) revalidation deadlines due before 30 September 2020 will be automatically extended to 30 September 2020. OVs will not have to apply for this extension. Extensions have also been applied to all OCQ(V) - TT conditional authorisation deadlines that are due before 30 June 2020. All of these have now been given a four-month extension, which has been applied to each OV’s training record. Additionally, in order to assist OVs in completing the end of course online examination during these exceptional circumstances a new option of remote invigilation has been approved for use.

The full briefing note can be found online.

1 APRIL 2020

Issuing of Export Health Certificates during COVID-19 outbreak

In response to concerns about its ability to ensure that trade can continue, APHA has invoked contingency plans which include having the ability to print in other offices across the UK to enable the production of Export Health Certificates (EHCs). This includes stocks of paper and other materials required to produce these items. APHA teams are able to work remotely from the office and are currently able to complete all tasks as normal. APHA is working with policy colleagues to look at alternative processes should the need arise and is keeping abreast of the changing situations as other countries respond to the situation. It is endeavouring to process EHCs within its normal Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and will prioritise on export date where required.

The full briefing note can be found online.