24 January 2020

Wuhan Novel Coronavirus

In response to the current Wuhan Novel Coronavirus outbreak College Chair Professor Martin Marshall has issued the following statement today.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "We're closely monitoring updates from relevant authorities, such as Public Health England (PHE). The current threat to the UK is considered low, and NHS England and PHE are assuring patients that there are robust arrangements in place to manage the emerging situation.

"Patients should not be alarmed as it is still more likely that anyone with flu-like symptoms will have the flu.

"The most important thing is that any patient who thinks they may have symptoms should not try to attend a GP appointment or hospital emergency departments in person. We advise them to let the GP receptionist know if they have recently travelled to Wuhan, China before a decision is taken by the GP as to where the patient will be seen.

"Should a patient arrive at a GP surgery with potential symptoms and who has recently travelled to an affected area, GPs should try to place them in isolation, where possible. The current PHE guidelines should then be followed, which can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/wn-cov-guidance-for-primary-care/wn-cov-interim-guidance-for-primary-care

"Coronavirus is potentially fatal but the World Health Organisation is currently reporting it as an 'emergency' but not a 'global emergency' and there remains a relatively-low fatality rate. The virus is airborne and therefore spread in a similar way to colds and flu. Currently, the incubation period of this virus is thought to be five days. Symptoms include high temperatures, fatigue, headaches, chills and pains.

"We would advise patients to consider if they need to travel to areas in which outbreaks have been confirmed until the situation is under control. To reduce risk of infection we also suggest patients practice good hand washing hygiene; cover their mouths and noses when sneezing or coughing; and avoid sharing food, drink and utensils."

Further Information
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The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.