On January 22, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed 51 people were “severely ill” and another 12 were “in critical condition” from the virus which has spread to the US, Australia, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.
In a bid to contain the coronavirus, flights departing from Wuhan, China have been suspended from Heathrow Airport.
Chinese authorities have suspended all flights departing Wuhan, meaning that there are no incoming flights from Wuhan to Heathrow.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, a spokesperson for Heathrow said: “As of this morning, the Chinese authorities have suspended all flights departing Wuhan.
“There will be no incoming flights from Wuhan to Heathrow for the foreseeable future.
“Public health officials in the UK at this stage view the risk to the UK population as low, and have only implemented enhanced monitoring measures for Wuhan flights – although now that there are no Wuhan flights, there won’t be any arriving passengers for them to monitor.”
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The spokesperson added: “Unless and until the UK health authorities change their view of the risk, there will be no real change to the situation at Heathrow.”
A Gatwick spokesperson said: “Gatwick does not currently have any direct flights to Wuhan and, in line with advice from the Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England, there are no current plans to put screening in place for passengers arriving from China.
“We are cooperating closely with the relevant authorities and will continue to follow the advice of the Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England.”
According to Public Health England, current risk to the UK has been changed from ‘very low’ to ‘low’.
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However, it has been reported that five travellers from China are being tested for the virus in British hospital isolation units, in Scotland.
Three patients are being examined in Edinburgh and a further two people in Glasgow are being examined after travelling from Wuhan.
Additionally, the Department of Health announced there will be an “enhanced monitoring” package in place for all direct flights from China to the UK.
In a statement, the government said: “We have been carefully monitoring the coronavirus situation in Wuhan and are ready to put in place proportionate, precautionary measures.
Many airports have increased screenings for the coronavirus
“From today, enhanced monitoring will be in place from all direct flights from Wuhan to the UK. The enhanced monitoring package includes a number of measures to provide advice to travellers if they feel unwell.
“For those travelling back directly from Wuhan, this includes a Port Health team who will meet each direct flight aircraft to provide advice and support to those that feel unwell. The team will include a principal port medical inspector, port health doctor, administrative support and team leader.
“They will check for symptoms of coronavirus and provide information to all passengers about symptoms and what to do if they become ill. Mandarin and Cantonese language support will be available to Public Health England (PHE) and leaflets will be available to passengers.”
In countries where risks are higher, increased measures are also taking place at airports across the world.
In Iran, passengers from China are being screened for symptoms of the coronavirus at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini international airport, Reuters reports.
Airline crew flying to and from South Korean airports are being offered hazardous material suits, while John F Kennedy, Los Angeles and San Francisco International Airports are screening for the coronavirus, along with Chicago O’Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Canadian airports including Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal have announced that international passengers will have to undergo screenings as more airports ramp up their efforts globally.
The coronavirus, which was first reported in Wuhan, China, are a group of viruses which included the likes of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The latest discovery relating to the coronavirus group is the seventh to be discovered.
According to the BBC, Wuhan and Chinese authorities believe the virus “originated from a seafood market that conducted illegal transactions of wild animals”.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), common human coronaviruses usually only last for a short amount of time, but symptoms may include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- A general feeling of being unwell.
So far, the outbreak has killed 17 people, and there are more than 500 confirmed cases.