All but essential travel to the region of China hit by the coronavirus outbreak should be cancelled or postponed, advises the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Employers are urged to cancel all employee trips to anywhere that could pose a health risk.
If staff do travel, employers should keep in regular contact with them and ensure all precautions are taken to ensure they keep themselves safe and know what actions to take if they become ill.
Travel advice from the UK government
Travellers arriving in the UK from Wuhan are being met by health teams to check them for any symptoms of coranavirus. The government may also look to extend this monitoring of the virus to check direct flights from other Chinese airports.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson told The Telegraph: “In light of the latest medical information, including reports of some person-to-person transmission, and the Chinese authorities’ own advice, we are now advising against all but essential travel to Wuhan.
“The safety and security of British nationals is always our primary concern, and we advise British nationals travelling to China to remain vigilant and check our travel advice on gov.uk.”
Coranavirus cases spreading
So far more than 6,000 people are known to have been infected by coronavirus and 132 have died, as the virus continues to spread. Most cases of coronavirus have been confined to China, mainly in the country’s Hubei province; but the virus has reached other countries. There have been cases confirmed in at least 13 countries so far, including the US, France, Germany and Australia.
More than 100 people in the UK have been tested for the virus and while all tests have so far been negative, Public Health England admits that it’s likely there will soon be cases of it here.
What is coronavirus and its symptoms?
Coronavirus is a family of viruses that cause diseases in animals. Seven of these viruses, including this new one in China, have ‘jumped’ to humans. In most cases, it just causes cold-like symptoms. This new virus however, known as Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV), is far more dangerous. There is no simple cure for it and in severe cases it can cause pneumonia.
Symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus generally include:
- Feeling tired
- Difficulty breathing
- High temperature
- Cough and/or sore throat.
As these symptoms are similar to that of the common cold and flu, a person must keep in mind whether they’ve travelled in the last two weeks to a high-risk area,or been in contact with someone who has.
The first and most crucial line of defence against contracting and spreading the virus is good hand hygiene. Just like the common cold and flu bugs, the virus is spread via droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. The most important thing people can do to protect themselves is to keep their hands clean by regular washing with soap and water or using a hand sanitising gel.
People should also avoid shaking hands, kissing cheeks and touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Travellers should also take extra care in airports and when using public transport.
Seeking medical help
If you or any of your employees have travelled to Wuhan City in China (or another affected area) in the previous two weeks or been in contact with someone who has and feel unwell, do not go to a GP surgery or hospital; instead, call NHS 111 immediately for advice.
Anyone returning from Wuhan or any other affected area has been asked to put themselves into quarantine for at least two weeks. This means staying away from work and other busy places and avoiding contact with other people as much as possible.
If you are a British citizen currently in Hubei Province or you have an employee in the area who needs assistance, there is a 24-hour helpline available on +86 (0) 10 8529 6600 or you can call The FCO in the UK on (+44) (0)207 008 1500.
Further guidance and updates
For answers to coronavirus questions read the BBC article to find more.
Read the UK government’s Coronavirus: latest information and advice to find out more.