At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
If you’re on prescription medication, make sure you bring enough with you or have access to a supply in China. Certain medicines may not be available and you may be prohibited from bringing others into the country. For more information and advice, check with your GP and the Embassy of China before travelling.
Healthcare is not free in China and can be very expensive. Make sure you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance covering healthcare and medical evacuation/repatriation for the duration of your stay. For more information, see Medical treatment in China.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 120 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you need treatment.
The high levels of air pollution in major urban and industrialised areas in China may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. You can check the pollution index levels for many cities on the aqicn.info website.
Tap water in China is generally not safe to drink. You should drink only bottled water.
The extreme altitude (over 3,000m) of some areas, including Tibet, parts of Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province, may cause altitude sickness.
The Chinese authorities react quickly to any outbreaks of any infectious disease, including enforcing quarantine for those showing symptoms.
On 23 May the US Consulate in Guangzhou issued a health alert following a recent report of abnormal symptoms by a US government employee based in Guangzhou. We are seeking further information but at this stage are not aware of any specific risks to British nationals. If you have any concerns about symptoms or medical problems, you should always seek medical advice.
Human infections of avian influenza are being reported in China, particularly among those individuals who have been in close contact with infected birds. Before travelling, you should read more information and follow the prevention advice on Public Health England and NaTHNaC’s websites.
Dengue fever is present in some parts of China mainly during the rainy season. There has been a large increase in cases of dengue fever in Guangdong province. You should take appropriate precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.