Public Health England (PHE) has said it is aware of a reported outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan City, China, and has offered advice to travellers to the area regarding this as well as the ongoing avian flu risk.
PHE has said they have been carefully monitoring the situation in Wuhan for some time and are ready to put in place proportionate, precautionary measures. There are currently no confirmed cases of this new infection in the UK.
The risk to the UK population has been assessed as low. This has been raised from very low due to current evidence on the likelihood of cases being imported into this country.
Based on the emerging evidence regarding case numbers, potential sources and human to human transmission, the risk to travellers to Wuhan is moderate. In addition, the UK will be updating its travel advice today to advise only essential travel to Wuhan.
From 22nd January 2020 enhanced monitoring will be in place from all direct flights from Wuhan to the UK. The enhanced monitoring package includes a number of measures that will help to provide advice to travellers if they feel unwell.
PHE has said that the UK is well prepared for new diseases and their approach is being kept under constant review. In line with their robust preparedness activities for emerging infections, they have issued clinical guidance for the detection and diagnosis of Wuhan Novel Coronavirus and PHE has developed a diagnostic test.
Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director, National Infection Service, Public Health England, said:
“This is a new and rapidly evolving situation where information on cases and the virus is being gathered and assessed daily. Based on the available evidence, the current risk to the UK is considered low. We are working with the WHO and other international partners, have issued advice to the NHS and are keeping the situation under constant review.
“The risk to visitors to Wuhan is moderate reflecting an increase in the number of cases being identified in China and evidence that the virus has limited spread from person to person. If you are travelling to the area, you should maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene and should avoid visiting animal and bird markets or people who are ill with respiratory symptoms. Individuals should seek medical attention if they develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan, either in China or on their return to the UK. They should phone ahead before attending any health services and mention their recent travel to the city.”