Passengers flying into Heathrow from China will be SEPARATED from other travellers on arrival amid fears killer SARS-like coronavirus will spread to the UK
- ‘Separate area’ at Heathrow will screen travellers arriving from affected regions
- British officials say that the outbreak across Asia is constantly under review
- Nine patients have died from the coronavirus, which has infected 473 people
Travellers from the area of China at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak will be separated from other passengers and screened on arrival at Heathrow Airport.
British officials say that the situation is constantly under review but no plans exist to screen arrivals from China at other UK airports.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said Public Health England is putting in place new precautions in relation to travellers to the UK from the region.
Flights from Wuhan will land in an isolated area of Terminal 4, where passengers will be met by a team of medics, it has been reported.
PHE has upgraded the risk to the UK population who go to Wuhan from very low to low, the transport secretary said.
It comes as the US has recorded its first case of the never-before-seen virus, which has killed nine people and infected 473.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is expected to declare the outbreak a public health emergency in a meeting in Geneva this afternoon.
Travellers from the area of China at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak will be separated from other passengers on arrival at Heathrow Airport as UK health chiefs step up their response
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said Public Health England is putting in place new precautions in relation to travellers to the UK from the region
Mr Shapps told Sky News a ‘separate area’ at Heathrow will screen travellers arriving from affected regions at the centre of the outbreak.
He did not specify which region this was. However, it is likely to be Hubei province, where the majority of the cases and all of the deaths have occurred.
Chinese officials have urged travellers not to go to Wuhan, and have asked residents to avoid crowds and public gatherings to contain the virus.
Mr Shapps said: ‘There have been some announcements this morning about flights that come direct from the affected region to Heathrow with some additional measures there.
‘Obviously we want to stay ahead of the issue so we are keeping a very close eye on it.
‘Initially this is to ensure that when flights come in directly into Heathrow there is a separate area for people to arrive in.’
Mr Shapps told BBC Radio 5 Live Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce a package of precautionary measures later.
Though not confirmed, a Government source has reportedly told the BBC the measures will include:
- Medics meeting each direct flight landing at Heathrow from Wuhan
- Aircraft announcements telling passengers to report if they are ill before landing
- Planes landing in an isolated area of Heathrow Terminal 4
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.’
An American man with the new coronavirus has been identified in Washington state, CDC officials said on Wednesday, bringing the total number of countries with cases of the deadly virus to five outside of China, including the US, Thailand, Japan South Korea and Taiwan
Thai medical staff wear protective suits transfer a 70-year-old patient, who is suspected of having coronavirus infected after traveling back from Wuhan
A child wears a face mask at Hong Kong’s international airport
MailOnline has approached Public Health England for further information. The body said it would release an update later today.
London is connected to Wuhan by three direct flights per week. Almost every other city on Earth is a maximum of 18 hours away.
The Foreign Office has updated its advice for Britons travelling to China, warning the virus had spread to other areas outside the Hubei province.
The illness comes from a new coronavirus, not been previously identified in humans.
Chinese health officials have confirmed it has spread between humans, warning that it may mutate to become even deadlier.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from a cold to more severe diseases such as SARS.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THIS OUTBREAK SO FAR?
A total of 473 people are confirmed to have caught the unnamed coronavirus, which has never been seen before. Six patients have died.
Most of the cases have occurred in Wuhan, a city in Hubei province home to 11million people. But patients have been diagnosed across China, including in Beijing and Shanghai.
The coronavirus, which is from the same family as SARS, has also spread to South Korea, Thailand, Japan and Taiwan.
Chinese officials yesterday confirmed the virus has spread between humans, suggesting it can be passed through coughs and sneezes.
The outbreak is believed to have started late last month among people connected to a seafood market in Wuhan, which has since been shut.
China is entering its busiest travel period due to the Lunar New Year, which sees many people travelling back to their home town or village.
Virologists fear the increased travel that will happen over the holidays will cause a surge in cases.
So where have cases been recorded?
Hubei province, 375 cases, 9 deaths
Guangdong province, 26 cases
Chongqing province, 5 cases
Zhejiang province, 5 cases
Hainan province, 4 cases
Jiangxi, 2 cases
Henan province, 1 case
Hunan province, 1 case
Yunnan province, 1 case
Fujian province, 1 case
Sichuan province, 2 cases
Shandong province, 1 case
Shanxi province, 1 case
Shanghai, 9 cases
Beijing, 10 cases
Tianjin, 2 cases
Macau, 1 case
Hong Kong, 1 case
Thailand, 4 cases
South Korea, 1 case
Japan, 1 case
Taiwan, 1 case
US, 1 case
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