Wuhan Novel Coronavirus outbreak – NHS guidance issued

17 Feb 2020

The DHSC and PHE has issued clinical guidance to help identify cases of Wuhan novel coronavirus

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published a Chief Medical Officer (CMO) alert for healthcare professionals regarding the outbreak of a new strain of the coronavirus. This novel coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan City, China has resulted in around 583 people contracting respiratory infections from January 2020; the source of the outbreak remains unknown. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses causing symptoms such as chest tightness, cough and fever, and range from mild illness such as the common cold (with or without fever) to pneumonia requiring hospitalisation and a small number of fatalities. The route of transmission is unknown, however transmission of other coronaviruses is mostly through direct or indirect contact with infected respiratory secretions as well as blood, faeces and urine.

No confirmed cases of the Wuhan novel coronavirus (WN-CoV) have been reported in the UK. The risk to the UK population is considered to be low based on potential sources, human-to-human transmission and evidence of cases. Currently, emergence of the Wuhan novel coronavirus in the UK is most likely to result from a traveller who has visited Wuhan in China.

The CMO alert includes a flowchart which summarises the management of a suspected case of WN-CoV and initial assessment questions which can be used to help identify and isolate suspected patients.

Advice for pharmacy teams:
England

  • Be aware of PHE’s main principles which include:
    • Identifying potential cases as soon as possible
    • Preventing possible transmission of the infection to patients/staff
  • Obtain an accurate travel history from patients presenting with acute respiratory infection; risk of WN-CoV should be considered in all patients who develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan City
    • Such patients should not attend their GP surgery in person but should telephone their GP or NHS 111 for medical advice
    • On their return to the UK, they should not attend their GP surgery but call their GP or call NHS 111 and ask for medical advice
  • Travellers should be signposted to the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC’s) TravelHealthPro website for current travel health recommendations
  • Further information and guidance is available on the Public Health section of the gov.uk website

Northern Ireland

  • Be aware of PHE’s main principles which include:
    • Identifying potential cases as soon as possible
    • Preventing possible transmission of the infection to patients/staff
  • Obtain an accurate travel history from patients presenting with acute respiratory infection; risk of WN-CoV should be considered in all patients who develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan City should
    • Such patients should not attend their GP surgery in person but should telephone their GP for medical advice
    • On their return to the UK, they should not attend their GP surgery but call their GP and ask for medical advice
  • Travellers should be signposted to the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC’s) TravelHealthPro website for current travel health recommendations
  • Further information and updates are available on the Department of Health website and the Public Health section of the gov.uk website

Scotland 

  • Be aware of PHE’s main principles which include:
    • Identifying potential cases as soon as possible
    • Preventing possible transmission of the infection to patients/staff
  • Obtain an accurate travel history from patients presenting with acute respiratory infection; risk of WN-CoV should be considered in all patients who develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan City should
    • Such patients should not attend their GP surgery in person but should telephone their GP or NHS 24 111 for medical advice
    • On their return to the UK, they should not attend their GP surgery but call their GP or call NHS 24 111 and ask for medical advice
  • Travellers should be signposted to the following guidance on Fitfortravel
  • Further information and guidance is available on the Health Protection Scotland website and on the Public Health section of the gov.uk website

Wales

  • Be aware of PHE’s main principles which include:
    • Identifying potential cases as soon as possible
    • Preventing possible transmission of the infection to patients/staff
  • Obtain an accurate travel history from patients presenting with acute respiratory infection; risk of WN-CoV should be considered in all patients who develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan City should
    • Such patients should not attend their GP surgery in person but should telephone their GP or NHS Direct Wales for medical advice
    • On their return to the UK, they should not attend their GP surgery but call their GP or call NHS Direct Wales and ask for medical advice
  • Suspected cases of the Wuhan novel coronavirus should be reported to the Health Protection Team: AWARe on 0300 00 300 32 where public health advice is also available
  • Travellers should be signposted to the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC’s) TravelHealthPro website for current travel health recommendations
  • Further information and guidance is available on the Public Health Wales website and on the Public Health section of the gov.uk website

The NPA has developed resources for pharmacy teams which can be found here.

For further information on this or any other query, please contact the NPA Pharmacy Services team on 01727 891 800 or email pharmacyservices@npa.co.uk.

Produced by the NPA Pharmacy Services team January 2020.