A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
Novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.
The government are asking people to take simple, common-sense steps to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible, like they would with other flu viruses.
This means remaining at home for 14 days after arriving from Wuhan or Hubei Province (or elsewhere in China if you have symptoms) and not going to work, school or public areas.
Where possible, you should avoid having visitors to your home, but it’s ok for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food.
Why the advice has changed
This is an evolving situation and the advice has changed based on emerging information from China about the number of cases and spread of the infection from person to person.
This is a highly precautionary measure to limit the potential spread of infection;
- If you develop symptoms and have returned from mainland China.
- If you develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath, you should continue to follow the advice above. Please do not leave your home and call NHS 111 immediately.
Summary of action taken
The Government have introduced advanced monitoring at airports with direct flights from China.
A team of public health experts has been established in Heathrow to support anyone travelling in from China who feels unwell. These hubs will bring in rotational teams of 7 clinicians, working in shifts, who will be on hand to support patients on arrival. This is in addition to medical staff who are already permanently in place at all UK airports and the advice issued to all UK airports for people travelling to and from China.
The government has issued clinical guidance for the detection and diagnosis of novel coronavirus (2019-nCov), and infection prevention and control.
The Chief Medical Officer, Medical Director at PHE and Medical Director at NHSE/I have issued advice via a CAS (Central Alerting System) alert to frontline staff to increase awareness of the situation and any actions to take.
Most people who develop symptoms will get them after leaving the airport and so the priority is providing UK residents and travellers with the latest information to make sure they know what to do if they experience symptoms, and the NHS and PHE have an established plan to respond to someone who becomes unwell.
China has also introduced port-of-exit screening so people already exhibiting symptoms are not allowed to leave the country.
Diagnosis and analysis
Based on current evidence, novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild. Those who have died in Wuhan appear to have had pre-existing health conditions.
The UK is now one of the first countries outside China to have a prototype specific laboratory test for this new disease. Healthcare professionals who are contacted by a patient with symptoms following travel to Wuhan have been advised to submit samples to PHE for testing.