As of Wednesday, February 26, the British government has implemented containment measures for individuals who have visited South Korea's Daegu city and Cheongdo district, in efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The Korean Air website indicates that "anyone who has visited Daegu/Cheongdo in Korea, or nationals of South Korea from Daegu/Cheongdo will be quarantined for 14 days in the United Kingdom."
On Monday, February 10, British Airways announced the cancelations of all its flights to and from mainland China, including Beijing and Shanghai, until March 31. The decision came as the British government declared COVID-19 to be "a serious and imminent threat to public health", giving doctors additional authority to quarantine individuals suspected of carrying the infection.
To date, 13 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the UK. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.