Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

18 February 2020

Article: 54/701

On 11 February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, first reported in Wuhan city, China, has been officially named COVID-19, which replaces the temporary name of 2019-nCoV infection used by many health agencies around the world. The virus causing COVID-19 has been named as SARS-CoV-2 by the Coronavirus Study Group.

The WHO has continued to produce daily situation reports containing the latest numbers of confirmed cases. On 13 February 2020, 99% of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally were reported from China, with 24 other countries around the world have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Advice for travellers

Prior to travel, the following should be checked: 

  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website, which provides guidance for UK nationals travelling overseas, including how to seek consular assistance if required. 
  • Travel agents or airlines, to provide the latest information on local travel restrictions and local authority guidance relating to COVID-19. 
  • Travel insurance policies, as the COVID-19 outbreak may impact travel insurance coverage.
  • The FCO countries or territories webpages, prior to travel for the latest advice, including: 
    • Travel advisories and restrictions, as these are subject to change and should be checked regularly. The FCO currently advise against all travel to Hubei Province and all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao). 
    • Entry requirements for the destination, as a number of countries have announced restrictions on entry by travellers from China in response to the outbreak. 
    • Reports of COVID-19 at the destination. Travellers to countries reporting cases of COVID-19 should follow local public health advice.

Travellers to mainland China (excluding Wuhan or Hubei Province), Hong  Kong, Japan, Macao, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan or Thailand should be aware if they develop symptoms on return to the UK, that are compatible with COVID-19, they should self-isolate and contact one of the following: 

  • NHS 111 (England and Wales) 
  • 0300 200 7885 (Northern Ireland) 
  • NHS24 (call 111) or your General Practitioner (Scotland)

Travellers can access Information on COVID-19, including prevention advice, on the fitfortravel website.

Advice for healthcare practitioners

There remains a risk of imported cases to the UK. Health professionals should remain vigilant for symptomatic individuals who may have COVID-19.

Guidance on testing, as well as a range of other resource materials, is available from the Health Protection Scotland (HPS - for Scotland) and Public Health England (PHE – for the rest of the UK) websites.

Health professions can access Information on COVID-19, including prevention advice, on the TRAVAX website.

Source: TRAVAX, 14 February 2020