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Coronavirus (2019-nCov/Wuhan-CoV)

Coronavirus (2019-nCoV / Wuhan-CoV)

Information and advice regarding the new coronavirus can be found on the www.gov.uk website, and via NHS111. If you are concerned that you or a family member may have symptoms following recent travel, please contact NHS111.


What is Coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses (CoV), which were first discovered fifty years ago, are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory tract infections in both animals and humans, including the “common cold”. Animal coronaviruses can mutate and then “jump the species barrier” from animals to infect humans, as was the case with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARs-CoV, 2002) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV, 2012).

What do we know about 2019-nCoV?

This is a new virus that does not match any of the known strains of coronavirus. It is also believed to be an animal virus which has mutated, but the “host” animal has not yet been confirmed. It was detected in Wuhan City in China, and the first cases are believed to have been associated with a large wet seafood and wild animal market. Like all coronaviruses it causes a respiratory illness which, in the majority of people, is no worse than a bad winter cold, although it can cause a more severe illness, including severe pneumonia, in older people with other underlying medical conditions and those who have a weakened immune system. Whilst it appears to be rather infectious, studies to date are indicating that it is far less infectious than measles, which is one of our most common infectious diseases.

What is the global situation regarding 2019-nCoV?

The risk is rated as very high within China and high elsewhere. For the UK, the risk is rated as moderate, but the risk to individuals is low. nCoV is spreading rapidly because it is a new virus and no one has immunity to it. Wuhun City in China is the epicentre and it has naturally spread within China from Wuhan, with seeding to a number of other countries as a result of global travel. The World Health Organisation (WHO) publish a daily Situation Report (SitRep) on their website (www.who.int/). Although nCoV is spreading outside of China, the number of confirmed cases in other countries remains very low compared to the number of cases within China.

What action is being taken in the UK in response to nCoV?

NHS England (NHSE) and Public Health England (PHE) have published guidance for the general public and the NHS in relation to measures to control nCoV and to try and limit spread. Some of this advice is being updated daily, and can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public#history.Across the NHS, including within primary care, there is a huge ongoing co-ordinated response in terms of preparedness planning in order to ensure that any suspected cases of nCoVare identified quickly and managed appropriately. Across the NHS, every single acute Trust, community trust, primary care providers and allied service providers are all developing their response plans as directed by NHSE/PHE. The response to nCoV is similar to the response to pandemic influenza because the virus is new.


PHE and NHS111 have published advice for the general public, which involves seeking medical advice and self-isolating at home if they have travelled to a high-risk country as per the current nCoV Risk Assessment criteria:  

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-self-isolation-for-patients-undergoing-testing/advice-sheet-home-isolation

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