The NHS and Public Health England (PHE) are extremely well prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases. The NHS has put in place measures to ensure the safety of all patients and NHS staff while also ensuring services are available to the public as normal. The risk to the general public is moderate. However it is essential that an accurate travel history is obtained from all patients with acute respiratory infections, using any one of the following: cough or fever or shortness of breath to help identify potential cases.
If you have returned from these specific areas since February 19th, please check NHS 111 Online for guidance www.111.nhs.uk/service/covid-19 BEFORE calling NHS 111 and self-isolate even if you DO NOT have symptoms :
- Specific lockdown areas in Northern Italy as designated by the Government of Italy
- Special care zones in South Korea as designated by the Government of the Republic of South Korea
- Hubei province (as previously noted)
If you have returned from these areas since February 19th and develop symptoms, however mild, you should self-isolate at home immediately and check NHS 111 Online for guidance BEFORE calling NHS 111. You do not need to self-isolate if you have NO symptoms.
- Northern Italy (defined by a line above, and not including, Pisa, Florence and Rimini)
Patients concerned that they may have Coronavirus or may have come into contact with someone who has, please check the NHS 111 online service which provides information and guidance for patients as to what they should do based on their particular circumstances.
Local pathways are being established, working with NHS 111 to assess returning travellers from these areas and develop community pathways for individuals who are clinically stable and meet the clinical and geographic components of the case definition.
We recommend that travellers with fever returning from these countries should still have a clinical assessment in order to assess for other important diseases.
Information for the public is available on the following links:
Overview for Travellers: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19
Like the common cold, Coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with Novel Coronavirus via cough and sneezes or hand contact. A person can also be infected by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands.
The risk of being in close contact with a person with Coronavirus or contaminated surfaces is very low at the current time, as members of the public who have visited Wuhan, Hubei province, China are currently in isolation.
Testing of suspected Coronavirus cases is carried out in line with strict regulations. This means that suspected cases are kept in isolation, away from public areas of the hospital and returned home also in isolation.
Any equipment that come into contact with suspected cases are thoroughly cleaned as appropriate. Specific guidance has also been shared with NHS staff to help safeguard them and others. Patients can be reassured that their safety is a top priority, and are encouraged to attend all appointments as usual.
Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport.
- Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
You can find the latest information and advice from Public Health England at:
Please view the video from the BBC for information on the 20 second handwash: