Wuhan coronavirus: do you need to worry?
We now know more about the new coronovirus emerging out of Wuhan, China. As the virus spreads and cases are discovered in other countries, do people in the UK need to worry about the virus?
What’s the risk in the UK?
Although cases have been confirmed in other countries like France, the USA and Australia, there have as yet been no deaths outside China. Public Health England maintains that the risk to the UK public is low. This has been raised from very low as the government continues to monitor the situation.
The World Health Organization has declared an emergency in China but has not declared an international public health emergency, as it did with swine flu and Ebola. It is producing daily reports on the spread of the virus.
All flights to the UK from China are being monitored. Public health experts have been stationed at London Heathrow Airport to help any travellers from China who feel unwell and to give health advice. Since symptoms can take up to fourteen days to appear, travellers are being given health information to identify cases as soon as possible.
What are the symptoms?
- Dry cough.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Runny nose and sore throat.
- Loss of appetite.
- Sweating and shivering.
- Headaches and muscle aches.
- Pneumonia symptoms – increasing cough and shortness of breath, sometimes with blood – stained or rust-coloured sputum.
Who is at risk?
You are at increased risk if you:
Have been in an area where the virus could have been acquired in the last fourteen days (eg Wuhan).
Have had contact with someone with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last fourteen days.
Around 1 in 4 cases are thought to be severe. The risk of developing a serious infection or dying from the Wuhan coronavirus is higher among those with a weaker immune system, including older people and those who are already unwell or have a long-term health condition.
If you experience symptoms of the new coronavirus and are in a risk group, you should speak with a healthcare professional immediately, preferably over the phone, rather than in person. They’ll advise you on what to do next.
You can reduce your personal risk of contracting the virus by:
- Washing your hands properly and frequently.
- Practising good personal hygiene like covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze.
- Avoiding, as much as possible, travel to at-risk areas.