Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice

Information for the public on the outbreak of coronavirus in China, including the current situation in the UK and information about the virus and its symptoms.

Number of cases

On 28 February the Chief Medical Officer for England announced 2 new cases of coronavirus.

If more cases are confirmed in the UK, it will be announced as soon as possible by the Chief Medical Officer of the affected country.

As of 27 February, a total of 7,690 people have been tested in the UK, of which 7,675 were confirmed negative and 15 positive.

The Department of Health and Social Care will be publishing updated data on this page every day at 2pm until further notice.

Risk level

Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the UK from low to moderate.

Returning travellers

Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people immediately if you’ve travelled to the UK from:

  • Hubei province in China in the last 14 days, even if you do not have symptoms
  • Iran, lockdown areas in northern Italy or special care zones in South Korea since 19 February, even if you do not have symptoms
  • other parts of mainland China or South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan or Thailand in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are mild)
  • other parts of northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini), Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam since 19 February and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are mild)

Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

In Scotland call your GP or NHS 24 on 111 out of hours. In Northern Ireland call 0300 200 7885.

Lockdown areas in northern Italy:

  • in Lombardy: Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano
  • in Veneto: Vo’ Euganeo

Special care zones in South Korea:

  • Daegu
  • Cheongdo

See maps of the specified areas.

This guidance is based on the recommendations of the UK Chief Medical officers. These areas have been identified because of the volume of air travel from affected areas, understanding of other travel routes and number of reported cases. This list will be kept under review.

For areas with direct flights to the UK we are carrying out enhanced monitoring. Passengers will be told how to report any symptoms they develop during the flight, at the time of arrival, or after leaving the airport.

Read more about what you should do if you’re asked to self-isolate.

Information about the virus

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.

The NHS website has more information about how coronavirus is spread and answers common questions about the virus.

Summary of action taken

On 10 February, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, announced strengthened legal powers to protect public health.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 have been put in place to reduce the risk of further human-to-human transmission in this country by keeping individuals in isolation where public health professionals believe there is a reasonable risk an individual may have the virus.

We have introduced advanced monitoring at airports with direct flights from China.

A team of public health experts has been established in Heathrow to support anyone travelling in from China who feels unwell. These hubs will bring in rotational teams of 7 clinicians, working in shifts, who will be on hand to support patients on arrival. This is in addition to medical staff who are already permanently in place at all UK airports and the advice issued to all UK airports for people travelling to and from China.

The government has issued clinical guidance for the detection and diagnosis of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and infection prevention and control.

The Chief Medical Officer, Medical Director at PHE and Medical Director at NHSE/I have issued advice via a CAS (Central Alerting System) alert to frontline staff to increase awareness of the situation and any actions to take.

Most people who develop symptoms will get them after leaving the airport and so the priority is providing UK residents and travellers with the latest information to make sure they know what to do if they experience symptoms, and the NHS and PHE have an established plan to respond to someone who becomes unwell.

China has also introduced port-of-exit screening so people already exhibiting symptoms are not allowed to leave the country.

Diagnosis and analysis

Based on current evidence, novel coronavirus (COVID-19) presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild. Those who have died in Wuhan appear to have had pre-existing health conditions.

The UK is now one of the first countries outside China to have a prototype specific laboratory test for this new disease. Healthcare professionals who are contacted by a patient with symptoms following travel to Wuhan have been advised to submit samples to PHE for testing. Individuals should be treated in isolation

After the experience of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, PHE developed a series of diagnostic tests to detect any member of the family of coronaviruses. These have been used for several years, and were able to detect the first UK case of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012.

With the first reported publication of the genome sequence of a 2019 novel coronavirus, PHE was able to rapidly develop further specific tests for this virus, working with WHO and global network of laboratories.

When a clinician suspects novel coronavirus (COVID-19), they take samples from the nose, throat and deeper respiratory samples, package and send them safely to PHE Colindale. PHE can provide a laboratory result from this specific virus on the same working day.

PHE also has the capability to sequence the viral genome and compare this to published sequences from China, if a case occurs. This will provide valuable information on any mutations in the virus over time and allow an improved understanding of how it spreads.

Further information

Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response

Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

Published 24 January 2020
Last updated 27 February 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated figures.

  2. Updated figures.

  3. Updated test result figures.

  4. Updated advice for returning travellers.

  5. Updated test result figures.

  6. Updated figures.

  7. Updated numbers.

  8. Update to test figures

  9. Updated test figures.

  10. Updated daily figures on test results.

  11. Updated daily figures on test results.

  12. Updated figures.

  13. Daily update to testing numbers.

  14. Updated figures.

  15. Updated test result figures.

  16. Updated test result figures.

  17. Updated figures.

  18. Updated figures for those tested in the UK.

  19. Updated figures for those tested in UK

  20. Updated statistics on coronavirus tests.

  21. Fourth case of coronavirus in England

  22. Updated test figures

  23. Updated figures for coronavirus checks and removal figures of passengers returned from Wuhan as all are outside the incubation period.

  24. Updated advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

  25. Updated figures

  26. Updated figures - no new cases

  27. Updated advice for travellers

  28. Added link to FCO travel advice for British nationals.

  29. Updated test figures – no further positive cases.

  30. Added Northern Ireland contact number for those who have returned from Wuhan or Hubei Province in the last 14 days, or from elsewhere in China and have developed symptoms.

  31. updated figures - no new cases

  32. Updated figures - no new cases.

  33. Updated test figures – no further positive cases.

  34. Added coronavirus public information video.

  35. Updated the advice for travellers from China.

  36. Updated test figures.

  37. Update regarding first confirmed cases of coronavirus in England.

  38. Addition of CMO statement

  39. Updated information on risk level

  40. Updated figures – no confirmed cases

  41. Updated figures - no confirmed cases.

  42. Updated figures - no confirmed cases

  43. Updated advice for travellers from Wuhan.

  44. Updated advice for travellers from Wuhan.

  45. Updated test figures - no confirmed cases

  46. Updated figures - no confirmed cases.

  47. Tests figure update - no confirmed cases.

  48. Updated advice

  49. First published.