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Chinese coronavirus set to be put on international health emergency list

Published on 22/01/20 at 11:12am

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is expected to trigger a Public Health Emergency over the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, meaning it will join the likes of Polio, Ebola and Swine Flu. It would be only the fifth time such an emergency as been declared.

So far nine people have been killed due to complications around the illness, with 440 cases being reported across China, Japan, the US and South Korea.

The first case of the coronavirus in the US was confirmed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday. The patient is an American man in his 30’s had returned from a trip to the Wuhan region.

The CDC says it expects to see more cases of the coronavirus in the US, after developing a new test which helped it to identify the first case.

The UK is to begin monitoring flights arriving from Wuhan. The government has said the risk to the population was “very low” while the risk to travellers to Wuhan was “low”. There are currently three flights from Wuhan to Heathrow a week.

A health team will meet each direct flight from Wuhan to London Heathrow, and passengers will be given a leaflet to encourage them to report if they are ill. Aircraft will land in an isolated area of Heathrow Terminal 4 that better lends itself to health contingencies.

The UK preventative measures do not appear to include a medical screening of passengers at the airport for signs of the virus, which the UK did following the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

Conor Kavanagh

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