News: Coronavirus in the UK
What’s the risk of catching coronavirus in the UK?
The NHS and Public Health England are well prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases. The NHS has put in place measures to ensure the safety of all patients and NHS staff while also ensuring services are available to the public as normal.
The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. But the risk to individuals remains low. If you have arrived back to the UK from mainland China and other specified areas, followed the advice for returning travellers.
Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.
How coronavirus is spread
Like the common cold, coronavirus (also known as Covid-19) infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with novel coronavirus via cough and sneezes or hand contact. You can also be infected by touching contaminated surfaces if you do not wash your hands.
The risk of being in close contact with a person with coronavirus or contaminated surfaces in very low at the moment, as members of the public who have visited Wuhan, Hubei province, China are currently in isolation.
Any NHS equipment that comes into contact with suspected cases is thoroughly cleaned as appropriate. Specific guidance has also been shared with NHS staff to help safeguard them and others.
Symptoms of coronavirus
The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
- a cough
- a high temperature
- shortness of breath
How to avoid catching or spreading germs?
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
- Put used tissues in the bin straight away.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
When to call 111
Based on the scientific advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) the UK Chief Medical Officers are advising anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and is experiencing cough or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.
If you have returned from these specific areas since February 19, you should call NHS111 and stay indoors and avoid contact with other people even if you do not have symptoms:
- Specific lockdown areas in Northern Italy as designated by the Government of Italy
- Special care zones in South Korea as designated by the Government of the Republic of South Korea
- Hubei province (returned in the past 14 days)
If you have returned from these areas since February 19th and develop symptoms, however mild, you should stay indoors at home and avoid contact with other people immediately and call NHS111. You do not need to follow this advice if you have no symptoms.
- Northern Italy (defined by a line above, and not including, Pisa, Florence and Rimini),
Do not go to a GP surgery or hospital. Call 111, stay indoors and avoid close contact with other people.
Tell 111 about any recent travel and any symptoms you have.