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Monday, Oct 26, 2020

People returning to UK from coronavirus-hit areas urged to 'self-isolate'

People returning from coronavirus-hit Wuhan in China should isolate themselves even if they don’t have symptoms, the Health Secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said precautions should be taken because officials cannot be 100% certain the virus is not spread by people who are not displaying symptoms.

The advice will affect around 1,500 travellers who have returned from Wuhan since January 10.

Mr Hancock told MPs in the Commons: ‘Coronaviruses do not usually spread if people don’t have symptoms – but we cannot be 100% certain.

‘From today, we are therefore asking anyone in the UK who has returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days to self-isolate.’

Mr Hancock advised those who have returned from the region to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people – and to contact NHS 111.

He added: ‘If you are in Northern Ireland, you should phone your GP.

‘If you develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of travel to the area, and are now in the UK, call your GP or ring 111 informing them of your symptoms and your recent travel to the city.

‘Do not leave your home until you have been given advice by a clinician.’

Ministers have said they are working to get Britons out of coronavirus-hit Hubei province in China, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying the Government is doing ‘everything we can’.

Officials estimate up to 200 UK citizens currently there will want to return to the UK.

If these Britons are flown home by the Foreign Office, health officials will also tell them to ‘self-isolate’.

British people in Wuhan have complained supplies of masks, goggles and protective equipment are running low.

Education consultant Matthew Heard, 31, who works in the area, told LBC: ‘There’s so many people here that the hospitals are being overrun.

‘There’s frustration that we’re not getting so much from the government.

‘There is no clear message we are getting from them other than to leave, which is impossible as airports, train stations and roads are closed.’

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