Your Doctor

Wuhan Novel Coronavirus - What you need to know

What is Wuhan Novel Coronavirus?

Wuhan Novel Coronavirus is a new member of the coronavirus family, in which the first human cases were detected in the city of Wuhan in China, in December 2019. It has since spread to other parts of China and a number of other countries including the USA, Thailand, South Korea, Thailand and Japan.

Wuhan Novel Coronavirus causes a type of pneumonia, so symptoms include coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. As this is a virus, antibiotics can’t be used, however, people admitted to hospital with coronavirus will be given fluids and help with breathing. It is believed that most people with a healthy immune system will recover from the virus, however a number of people who were already in poor health have died after being infected with this strain.

What is the risk to people in the UK?

There are currently (as of 23 Jan 2020) no confirmed cases of Wuhan Novel Coronavirus in the UK, and the UK Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England have categorised the risk to the UK population as Low. 

With that said, our health agencies are carefully monitoring the situation and are well prepared to manage and treat new diseases. From 22 Jan 2020, a number of enhanced monitoring measures are in place to meet all direct flights from Wuhan to the UK (three flights per week), providing advice and support to people who feel unwell. The situation is under constant review, and these measures will be extended to flights coming to the UK from other areas if necessary.

Public Health England has already developed a test to diagnose WNC, and the UK is one of the only countries outside China to have a specific laboratory test and guidance for its detection and diagnosis.

How can I minimise the risk of catching Wuhan Novel Coronavirus?

The risk to people in the UK is currently low, although practising good hand-washing and general hygiene is always advisable, to minimise the risk of catching or transmitting any virus. 

For people travelling to Wuhan, Public Health England has the following advice:

“The risk to visitors to Wuhan is moderate, reflecting an increase in the number of cases being identified in China and evidence that the virus has limited spread from person to person. If you are traveling to the area, you should maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene and should avoid visiting animal and bird markets or people who are ill with respiratory symptoms. Individuals should seek medical attention if they develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan, either in China or on their return to the UK. They should phone ahead before attending any health services and mention their recent travel to the city.”

This information was correct as of 23 January 2020. As the WNC outbreak is an ongoing and developing situation, please visit the Public Health England website for the very latest information.