Bailiwick ‘in good position’ to meet coronavirus threat

GUERNSEY is in a good position to respond to the coronavirus, which has already killed 17 people in China.

Quarantine staff, right, monitor travellers from China’s Wuhan and other cities as they go through body temperature scanners at Narita international Airport, near Tokyo. China has closed off the city of more than 11m. people in an unprecedented effort to try to contain the deadly coronavirus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Quarantine staff, right, monitor travellers from China’s Wuhan and other cities as they go through body temperature scanners at Narita international Airport, near Tokyo. China has closed off the city of more than 11m. people in an unprecedented effort to try to contain the deadly coronavirus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Nearly 600 cases of the illness have been reported, mostly around the original source of the outbreak in Wuhan.

The eastern Chinese city, with a population of 11m., was yesterday locked down in a bid to contain the illness, as was nearby Huanggang, which has a population of seven million.

A States of Guernsey spokesman said local public health officials had undertaken an exercise in November looking at how the Channel Islands’ strategic pandemic influenza plan worked and test how the island would respond to a pandemic.

‘Many of these principles are directly applicable to a novel respiratory virus infection,’ the spokesman said.

‘As a result of this the Bailiwick is in a good position to respond to the developing 2019-nCoV situation. Public health services are reviewing the situation daily and will provide further briefings as the situation develops.’

Some countries have implemented screenings at airports and other international departure points and the UK has implemented screening on all direct flights from Wuhan.

The enhanced monitoring package includes a number of measures that will help to provide advice to travellers if they feel unwell.

‘We will be monitoring the situation closely to ascertain if any change in policy is required but will not, at this time, be introducing any screening locally at our ports,’ the spokesman said.

‘However, this will be reassessed as new information becomes available. The risk to visitors to Wuhan is moderate, reflecting an increase in the number of cases being identified in China and evidence that the virus has limited spread from person to person.

‘People travelling are advised to maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene and avoid visiting animal and bird markets or people who are ill with respiratory symptoms.’

Islanders should seek medical attention if they develop respiratory symptoms – flu-like illness – within 14 days of visiting Wuhan, either in China or on their return to Britain. They should phone ahead before attending any health services and mention their recent travel to the city.

While most cases have so far been in China, there have been people diagnosed with the condition in Thailand, the US, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Virus facts

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with some causing less-severe disease, such as the common cold, and others causing more severe disease such as Middle East respiratory syndrome and severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) with an outbreak in 2002, but no reported cases since 2004.

The novel virus associated with events in Wuhan has provisionally been called 2019-nCoV or WN-nCoV.

Although evidence is still emerging, information to date indicates human-to-human transmission is occurring in close contacts of infected patients and health care workers.

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