Coronavirus UK To Monitor Flights From China As Precaution

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Coronavirus UK To Monitor Flights From China As Precaution

The UK is to begin monitoring flights arriving from China, as part of a series of precautionary measures after the spread of a new coronavirus.

The measures, to be announced by the health secretary later, will apply to flights from Wuhan to London Heathrow.

Public Health England have upgraded the risk to the UK population from very low to low, the transport secretary said.

Chinese authorities have advised people to stop travel into and out of Wuhan, the city at the heart of the outbreak.

They also admitted the country is now at the “most critical stage” of prevention and control.

So far, there have been 440 confirmed cases and nine people have died.

Most cases have been in Wuhan and Chinese authorities believe the virus originated from a seafood market that “conducted illegal transactions of wild animals”.

However it has also spread to other Chinese cities and a handful of cases have been identified abroad, including in Japan and the United States. There have been no cases in Britain.

On Tuesday, authorities in China confirmed for the first time that human-to-human transmission of the virus had taken place.

Health team at airport

In its most recent update on Monday, the UK government said the risk to the population was “very low” while the risk to travellers to Wuhan was “low”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed Public Health England had now increased the risk level to the population to “low”.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live that Health Secretary Matt Hancock would be announcing a package of precautionary measures later.

“The flights that come in from the affected region will now be given extra attention,” Mr Shapps said.

According to a government source, the “port measures” will include:

  • A health team to meet each direct flight from Wuhan to London Heathrow
  • Passengers on flights will hear an announcement and be given a leaflet to encourage them to report if they are ill
  • Aircraft will land in an isolated area of Heathrow Terminal 4 that “better lends itself to any health contingencies”

There are currently three direct flights a week from Wuhan to London Heathrow.

Mr Shapps said it was important to “stay ahead of the issue” and monitor the situation very carefully.

It comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) will also consider on Wednesday whether to declare an international public health emergency over the virus – as it did with swine flu and Ebola.

What we know so far about the Chinese coronavirus

This type of coronavirus is a new strain that hasn’t been seen in humans before, which means doctors still have lots to learn about it.

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The first human cases were identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. There have not been any other suspected human cases reported prior to this.

The incubation period (how long it takes for symptoms to appear after catching the infection) is days, rather than weeks.

https://www.bbc.com

Signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

It is not yet known how or when the virus became infectious to people. Experts believe the first cases were transmitted by an animal.

Other coronaviruses, such as Sars and Mers, came from civet cats and camels respectively.

At the moment, there is no vaccine that can protect people against it, but researchers are looking to develop one.

Coronavirus UK To Monitor Flights From China As Precaution

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