The government is introducing extra screening to protect people in the UK from the spread of coronavirus.

‘Enhanced monitoring’ will be put in place for all direct flights from Wuhan to Britain, the Department of Health has said.

This includes providing advice to travellers if they feel unwell and what symptoms to look out for.

A health team will meet the three direct flights a week from Wuhan into Heathrow to ‘support to those that feel unwell’.

Nine people have died after contracting the illness, all from the same province in China, but the number of people suffering from it has reached 440.

Public Health England (PHE) has upgraded the risk level from ‘very low’ to ‘low’ and implemented a series of precautionary measures, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

The team stationed at Heathrow will check passengers coming into the UK from the Chinese city where the outbreak began for symptoms of coronavirus, including fever.



They will also give information about other symptoms which may not be immediately clear during screening.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: ‘The welfare of our passengers and colleagues is always our main priority and we are working with the government to support the implementation of enhanced monitoring measures as a precaution.

‘We would like to reassure passengers that the government assesses the risk of a traveller contracting coronavirus to be low.

‘We would encourage anyone with individual questions or concerns to refer to guidance from Public Health England and the Foreign Office.’

Dr Nick Phin, deputy director of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, said: ‘This is a new and rapidly evolving situation where information on cases and the virus is being gathered and assessed daily.

‘Based on the available evidence, the current risk to the UK is considered low. We are working with the WHO and other international partners, have issued advice to the NHS and are keeping the situation under constant review.

‘If you are travelling to Wuhan, 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 morning, UK experts said twice as many people in Wuhan had coronavirus than they previously thought.



A previous estimate of 1,700 cases has now increased to around 4,000 cases of coronavirus in the Chinese city.

Currently, China is reporting that the officialy number of people suffering from the virus is at 440.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Early symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus include a fever, a dry cough, a sore throat and shortness of breath.

Scans on some patients have also shown fluid in the lungs consistent with viral pneumonia.

Many of those in hospital for the virus were reported to have shown generally stable vital signs at the time of their admission.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends anyone suffering symptoms suggestive of a respiratory illness seek medical attention and share their travel history with their care provider.

The virus is more likely to progress into a severe illness among older patients or those with weakened immune systems.

How does the virus spread?

China’s National Health Commission says the Wuhan coronavirus can be spread from person to person, with some medical workers among those affected.

The WHO say they are still investigating possible modes of transmission.

They suggest avoiding close contact with anyone suffering from an acute respiratory infection and ensuring coughs and sneezes are covered with disposable tissues or clothing.

Frequent hand-washing is also recommended, as well as avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.

There is currently no vaccine available for the virus, although the first patient of the illness is now at home in a stable condition.

For more information, visit the WHO website here.