Coronavirus – Latest Update Information, Advice & Guidance as at 26 February 2020:
Latest information on the outbreak of Coronavirus in China and other countries, including the current situation in the UK as issued by UK Government agencies on 26 February 2020, namely the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and the UK’s Chief Medical Officers.
Situation in the UK
Number of cases
As of 26 February, a total of 7,132 people have been tested in the UK, of which 7,119 were confirmed negative and only 13 positive.
Based on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers (England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland) assess the risk as ‘moderate’ – raised from low. This permits the Government to plan for all eventualities. The UK continues working in collaboration with other countries and the World Health Organisation to monitor the situation in China and around the world.
Travellers Returning To The UK
Based on the scientific advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the UK Chief Medical Officers have updated their advice for anyone who has travelled to the UK from specific areas as set out in the following paragraphs.
The UK is carrying out enhanced monitoring of direct flights from certain specific areas. Passengers will be told how to report any symptoms they develop during the flight, at the time of arrival, or after leaving the airport. These areas have been identified because of the volume of air travel from affected areas, understanding of other travel routes and number of reported cases. This list is being kept under review.
Travellers are advised that if they have returned from the following list of specific areas since 19 February, they should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, call NHS 111 and inform them of recent travel to the listed area. In Scotland phone the GP or NHS 24 on 111 out of hours. If in Northern Ireland, call 0300 200 7885. This advice should be followed even if they do not have symptoms of the virus:-
- Italy – specific locked down areas as designated by the Government of Italy (in Lombardy: Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano. in Veneto: Vo’ Euganeo).
- South Korea – specific care zones as designated by the Government of the Republic of South Korea (Daegu, Cheongdo).
- China – Hubei province (returned in the past 14 days).
Travellers who have returned from the following list of areas since 19 February and develop symptoms of the virus, however mild, should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, call NHS 111 and inform them of recent travel to the listed area. In Scotland phone the GP or NHS 24 on 111 out of hours. If in Northern Ireland, call 0300 200 7885. People do not need to follow this advice if they have no symptoms of the virus:-
- Northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini)
Travellers who have returned from other parts of China and the following list of specified areas in the last 14 days and develop symptoms of the virus (cough or fever or shortness of breath etc.),however mild, should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, call NHS 111 and inform them of recent travel to the listed area. In Scotland phone the GP or NHS 24 on 111 out of hours. If in Northern Ireland, call 0300 200 7885. People do not need to follow this advice if they have no symptoms of the virus:-
- Republic of Korea
- Hong Kong
Health Protection Regulations
On 10 February, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced strengthened powers to protect public health. The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 has been put in place to reduce the risk of further human-to-human transmission in this country by keeping individuals in isolation where public health professionals believe there is a reasonable risk an individual may have the virus.
Information about the Coronavirus
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 (COVID-19) is a new strain of Coronavirus which was first identified in Wuhan City, China.
Summary of action taken by the UK Government
The Government has 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 (COVID-19), 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 (COVID-19) 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. Individuals should be treated in isolation.
After the experience of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, PHE developed a series of diagnostic tests to detect any member of the family of Coronaviruses. These have been used for several years, and were able to detect the first UK case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012.
With the first reported publication of the genome sequence of a 2019 Novel Coronavirus, PHE was able to rapidly develop further specific tests for this virus, working with WHO and a global network of laboratories.
When a clinician suspects Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), they take samples from the nose, throat and deeper respiratory samples, package and send them safely to PHE Colindale. PHE can provide a laboratory result from this specific virus on the same working day.
PHE also has the capability to sequence the viral genome and compare this to published sequences from China, if a case occurs. This will provide valuable information on any mutations in the virus over time and allow an improved understanding of how it spreads.
UK Government Advice Website (Gov.UK)
Royal Mail Group – Coronavirus – A Reminder of the Latest Advice – Issued Wednesday 26thFebruary.
See copy attached.
Previous LTBs issued on this subject matter; LTB033/20, LTB043/20, LTB054/20, LTB063/20, LTB071/20 and LTB080/20.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer