What Action Has Been Taken to Tackle Coronavirus in the UK?

Coronavirus in UK

The UK Government have introduced advanced monitoring at airports with direct flights from China. And, a team of health experts at Heathrow Airport will provide support for any passengers from china, who feel unwell. The team involves 7 clinicians, who will work in shifts to provide 24 hour support.

The coronavirus outbreak has been categorised as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation. As of February 2020 there have been 74,185 of confirmed cases of coronavirus across the globe. Cases have been confirmed in several countries including Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan, as well as in the UK. 

As a result of this, the WHO quickly introduced new powers to limit and handle the spread. The Department of Health has declared that anyone confirmed to have the virus, can now be forcibly quarantined. They also went further and stated infected individuals can be forcibly sent into isolation, if they pose a threat to public health.

Action taken regarding travellers

In the UK there is specific and important advice for anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China

  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia 
  • Macau

Upon return, if they are experiencing a cough, fever or shortness of breath, they must stay indoors and contact the NHS. Even if these symptoms are mild they must take swift and safe precautions.  Passengers are routinely being informed how to identify and report symptoms. This applies during the flight, and once they have arrived and left the airport.

How does it spread?

Coronaviruses spread from person to person through the following ways:

  • coughing and sneezing
  • close personal contact, e.g. touching or shaking hands
  • touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
  • fecal contamination, although this is rare

How to Stay Safe?

Currently there are no vaccines to protect against coronavirus infection. But you can reduce your risk of contracting it by:

  • washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick

You can help reduce the risk of spreading viruses by staying at home if you are experiencing cold-like symptoms. And avoiding close contact with others.

Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw this away, and thoroughly wash your hands. It is also recommended to clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.


The UK government has issued clinical guidance for the detection and diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19). All frontline and NHS staff have been given information and guidance to increase awareness of the current situation and how to respond to suspected cases.

Most people who develop symptoms will probably get them after leaving the airport. As such, the priority is providing UK residents and travellers with the latest information. This means they will know what to do if they experience symptoms.

How at risk are UK citizens? 

As a response to this, the UK Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. By doing so, the Government can begin to plan for all possibilities. But the actual risk to the general public remains lows. 

Based on current evidence, coronavirus involves flu-like symptoms. These include a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. So far the evidence suggests that most cases have been mild. People who have died in Wuhan, appear to have had pre-existing health conditions.

The UK is taking direct action and is now one of the first countries outside China to have a prototype specific laboratory test for this new disease.


Engage in Learning offer an interactive eLearning course on Infection Control. This has been updated to include specific training on coronavirus.

Our infection control course can be found here