Coronavirus outbreak: passengers from China to UK urged to say if they feel unwell

Government directive concerns flights from city of Wuhan
People wearing face masks in Hong Kong

Government directive concerns flights from city of Wuhan

Picture: Shutterstock

Passengers on direct flights from Wuhan – the area of China at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak – will be monitored once they arrive in the UK, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.

As each flight lands, the plane’s captain will tell passengers to let a flight attendant know if they feel unwell.

Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Blanket temperature screening will not be introduced

Affected passengers’ details will be passed to public health teams at the airport, which will carry out further checks.

There are no plans to introduce blanket temperature screening of all passengers, a spokesperson for the DHSC said, because the incubation period for the illness can be up to five days.

The announcement comes as Public Health England (PHE) upgraded the risk to the UK population from coronavirus from ‘very low’ to ‘low’.

NHS staff told to be alert to possible cases of coronavirus

Neil Ferguson, director of the Medical Research Council’s Centre for Global Infectious Disease, said the monitoring of passengers on flights would only catch some of those potentially infected.

‘If somebody was infected two days before they travelled, they will arrive without any symptoms at all,’ he added.

Professor Ferguson said this is why the entire health service must be alert to possible cases of the virus.

‘There is now a protocol in place whereby if somebody reports moderately severe respiratory symptoms to their GP or hospital, and reports a recent travel history to Wuhan or the surrounding area, then PHE will be alerted to that case,’ he said.

China puts city travel ban in place

According to official figures from China, there have been 440 confirmed cases of coronavirus, resulting in nine fatalities.

Chinese authorities have told people to stop travelling to and from the city of Wuhan.

A few cases of coronavirus have been identified in other countries, including Japan and the US, but there have been no reported cases in the UK.

In other news