What is the Coronavirus situation in the UK?

COVID-19 Control

As of February 2020 there have been 9 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. A total of 5,549 people have been tested. Of this number 9 tested positive for the virus. If any more individuals are confirmed, it will be declared by the Chief Medical Officer for the UK. All other Countries must also declare each and every confirmed case of coronavirus. 

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. The number of deaths in China reached 2,004. 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. Under these new measures, which were announced on 17th February, the Department of Health has declared that anyone confirmed to have the virus, can now be forcibly quarantined, and will not be free to leave. They also went further and stated infected individuals can be forcibly sent into isolation, if they pose a threat to public health.

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. 

What is the travel advice? 

The virus originated in the Hubei province in China, and the most cases have been recorded there. As such, on Feb 4th the The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a statement advising against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and British citizens have now been advised to avoid but essential travel to China, not including Hong Kong and Macao. February has also seen the Health Secretary Matt Hancock stating that he  expects more cases to be diagnosed in the UK.

Returning 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. 

Direct from these areas are being monitored. 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. 

What are the Symptoms of the Coronavirus?

It is highly likely that at some point in your life, you have been infected with a type of this virus. symptoms usually only last for s short time.

Symptoms of the virus may include:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • a general feeling of being unwell

Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, or more severe diseases such as SARS. However, this is more common in infants and older adults or people with cardiopulmonary disease, or weakened immune systems.

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.


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