Coronavirus: Does the Chinese Novel Coronavirus airport screening affect the UK?

If you’re thinking of travelling within Asia via Asia this current time it’s worth taking note of the current Coronavirus Outbreak in Wuhan. To date, this SARS-like virus has not made it to UK shores. However, with increasing cases, countries like America have started to put in place travel restrictions and additional screening for the coronavirus at major airports.

UPDATED: January 17th 2020

On January 17th it was announced by the CDC in America they would start screening for the Chinese coronavirus. PHE (Public Health England), announced they were aware of the reported outbreak the novel coronavirus in Wuhan city in China. PHE is offering advice to travellers to the area regarding this as well as of the ongoing avian flu risk in the area.

What is PHE advice for UK travellers to Asia where the Coronavirus is increasing case numbers?

PHE is currently monitoring the situation with its partners including the World Health Organisation and the CDC in the US. At the time of this article, if you have booked a holiday from the UK to the Wuhan area of China, the risk is low. Travellers are, however, advised to take precautions such as good hygiene and minimise contact with animal markets in the Wuhan area of China.

Why is the US starting screening for the Novel Coronavirus?

The US has started screening for the Chinese Coronavirus at three major US airports in response to the Outbreak in Asia. The three airports (New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles) will start streaming all travellers from the Wuhan, China area in order to protect its borders from an outbreak. The screenings in America will start this weekend commencing Saturday, January 18th 2020.

To date, there have been two reported fatalities in Thailand and Japan on the Asian continent. 40 others are known to be infected. Both PHE and the CDC have hinted at the fact that it’s rare for an animal coronavirus to evolve and infect people which is why they’re watching this closely.

Will the screening affect travellers from the UK to the US?

There is currently no reason for travellers from the UK to the US to be screened. The only reason a UK national would be subject to screening is if they originated in their travel from the Wuhan area. Travellers one both Direct and indirect flights from China are likely to be screened.

Particular care should be taken when visiting China during the busy Chinese New Year period. The Chinese New Year begins on January 25th 2020.

The website Travel Health Pro offers additional travelling advice.

What are the symptoms of the Novel Chinese Coronavirus?

symptoms are similar to most current coronaviruses such as the recent SARS and MERS epidemics. They may include the following symptoms:

  • a runny nose
  • coughing or sore throat
  • fever-like effects
  • other infections in the upper respiratory system.

The deputy director of the PHE has stated the following in regards to the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus:

The risk to the UK population is very low. The UK has robust arrangements to manage emerging diseases and we can draw on our experience of developing pioneering diagnostic tests in humans for the coronaviruses – SARS and MERS.

He continued to offer the following advice to UK travellers visiting and returning from Asia:

Avian influenza remains a risk in a number of parts of China and if travellers experience coughing or difficulty breathing within 14 days of returning from China, they should call their GP or NHS 111 and report their recent travel.

Is the UK going to screen for the Coronavirus at airports?

There has been no news on any planned screening at UK airports at the time of writing this article. Should the major UK airports start to screen for the Wuhan Novel coronavirus I will update this post accordingly.

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