With the number of patients infected with the mysterious coronavirus increasing each day, flights from Wuhan to the United Kingdom will be monitored as a preventive measure. Public Health England (PHE) had previously categorised the coronavirus as a "very low" risk to UK travellers. It has now been categorised as "low" risk. Even though China has warned people against leaving or entering Wuhan, flights from the city are scheduled to reach Heathrow three times every week.
Around nine casualties and 440 cases of infection have been reported around the world. The virus, which is suspected to have originated after the consumption of wild meat in Wuhan, has spread to different parts of the world. Apart from China, cases have been reported in the United States, South Korea, Japan and Thailand. A patient in Australia is also suspected to be infected with the virus.
Although no cases have been reported in the UK, a British tourist, Ash Shorley, was suspected to have been infected in Thailand. To prevent the virus from reaching the UK, "port measures" will be introduced for flights from Wuhan to Heathrow.
Currently, the precautionary measures are limited to flights from Wuhan. The National Health Service is monitoring the virus and the precautionary measures may include other flights from infected countries.
According to BBC the "port measures" will include the arrival of the flights from Wuhan to Heathrow Terminal 4, which is more isolated. On arrival, the passengers will be met by a health team. Passengers will be given information pamphlets regarding symptoms to look out for. Passengers will be encouraged to seek immediate medical attention if they feel ill after arrival. It is unclear if authorities will be screening passengers upon arrival as they did during the Ebola outbreak.
The World Health Organisation is conducting an emergency meeting today in Geneva. The meeting is being conducted to decide if the outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern. Measures to be adapted internationally to prevent the spread of the virus will also be discussed during the meeting.
NHS has instructed visitors to China to maintain good personal and respiratory hygiene. Visitors are also encouraged to avoid coming in contact with birds and animals. If any visitor to Wuhan shows signs of respiratory illness within 14 days, then they should immediately seek medical aid.