UK airports screening passengers for deadly coronavirus as disease spreads to US

22 January 2020, 12:12

Coronavirus is spreading across the world
Coronavirus is spreading across the world. Picture: Getty Images

Passengers from one region of China will be separated at Heathrow following the coronavirus outbreak.

The UK government is stepping up its response to the coronavirus outbreak by separating passengers on arrival at Heathrow Airport.

Nine people have died in China after contracting the virus, while more than 400 others have been infected in countries including the US, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.

Transport Secretary has said Public Health England is putting in place new travel precautions.

He told Sky News: “There have been some announcements this morning about flights that come direct from the affected region to Heathrow with some additional measures there.

Coronavirus originated in Wuhan, Eastern China
Coronavirus originated in Wuhan, Eastern China. Picture: Getty Images

“At the moment Public Health England have moved this from “very low” to “low” but obviously we want to stay ahead of the issue so we are keeping a very close eye on it.

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“Initially this is to ensure that when flights come in directly into Heathrow there is a separate area for people to arrive in.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is expected to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in the coming days. The Foreign Office has also updated its advice for anyone in this country travelling to China.

While it’s thought the virus originated in the city of Wuhan, Eastern China, the U.S. reported its first case, with a man in his 30s being treated in Seattle.

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The unnamed patient travelled to Wuhan, arriving back in the US on January 15, a day before screening was introduced. He is expected to make a full recovery.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which attack the respiratory system.

It can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold, to more serious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory.

The strain that has recently emerged is new and hasn't been previously identified in humans.

Coronavirus is not normally deadly, and most people have a strong enough immune system to beat the illness.

Those who are more vulnerable include the elderly, pregnant women and people with ongoing health problems which affect their immune system.

How is coronavirus spread?

Coronavirus is an airborne virus and is spread in a similar way to colds and the flu.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Symptoms are similar to flu, including fever, cough, tightness of the chest, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.

However, some cases can cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and pneumonia.

Find out more about coronavirus on the Gov website here.