Latest information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) risks
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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Introduction 

A new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) causing respiratory symptoms was first identified in December 2019 in China. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic on the 11 March 2020. This means COVID-19 has spread worldwide and all travellers are potentially at risk of infection.

The WHO produce a weekly report listing which countries are affected and the number of confirmed cases in each country:

The content of this page changes as more information about COVID-19 becomes available.

Recommendations for All Travellers

Before planning and/or booking international travel you should read the information on the COVID-19 Health Considerations for Travel page, which includes measures to take before, during and after travel to reduce your risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Vaccination

A COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the UK. At this time, there is no COVID-19 vaccine available for the purposes of travel.

Overview of the Disease

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses, from the common cold to more severe infections like MERS-CoV and SARS.

In January 2020 China discovered a new coronavirus when it was investigating cases of pneumonia (from December 2019) in people in Wuhan city, Hubei province, China.

  • This new infection is called COVID-19 and the virus causing it is called SARS-CoV-2.

The virus spreads from person to person through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

  • If you are near the person when they cough or sneeze (within 2 metres) these droplets might land in your eyes, nose or mouth and cause infection.
  • Infected droplets also land on surfaces and objects such as handles, tables, telephones.
    • If your hands touch these surfaces or objects, the virus passes onto your hands.
    • When your hands come into contact with your face the virus can cause infection through your mouth, nose, eyes. 

The Illness

Symptoms of COVID-19 start up to 14 days after catching the virus.

The symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater)
  • a new continuous cough
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia).

Most people with COVID-19 have a mild illness and fully recover. A small number of people develop more severe illness which can be fatal. 

Severe illness is more likely in people who:

  •  are aged over 70 years or frail

Or those at any age (although your risk increases with age) who:

  • have weakened immune systems including cancer 
  • have long term medical conditions that affect their heart or lungs, liver or kidneys
  • are diabetic
  • are pregnant
  • are severely overweight

Treatment and Testing

There is no specific treatment. Antibiotics do not work because it is a viral infection.

Testing

Guidance on testing in the UK nations is available from the following websites:

COVID-19 testing for the purposes of international travel is not available on the NHS. Pre-travel COVID-19 tests may be available in the private sector, however, private testing processes and accuracy of results may vary. This should be discussed with the test provider before payment. If you need to travel internationally for work and require evidence of a test, you should speak to your employer or occupational health adviser.

Further Information

Links to the UK 4 nations guidance on COVID-19, including information on local measures and restrictions can be found below:

Further information on COVID-19 is available from:

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