Latest information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) risks
Public Health Scotland logo

Fit for Travel Logo

Information on how to stay safe and healthy abroad. About us.

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.
  • Travellers arriving into the UK (including UK nationals) are now required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. See COVID-19 testing at your destination prior to return to the UK for further information.
  • 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:

back to top