New measures are being introduced to prevent the introduction of coronavirus into the UK, with a separate area being set up for passengers arriving into Heathrow airport from Wuhan.

The city in eastern China is where the virus, which has claimed nine lives at the time of writing, first originated.

Hundreds of people have been infected, and cases have been detected in Seattle, Washington, as well as Japan, Thailand and South Korea.

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“There have been some announcements this morning about flights that come direct from the affected region to Heathrow with some additional measures there,” transport secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News.

“At the moment Public Health England have moved [the risk level] from ‘very low’ to ‘low’ but obviously we want to stay ahead of the issue so we are keeping a very close eye on it.

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“Initially this is to ensure that when flights come in directly into Heathrow there is a separate area for people to arrive in.”

Three direct flights a week currently arrive at Heathrow from Wuhan.

Further directives are expected to be issued by health minister Matt Hancock later today, including that a team of health workers meet direct flights from Wuhan at Heathrow airport and that inflight announcements are made and leaflets distributed instructing passengers who feel ill to seek assistance from the health team.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is also holding an emergency meeting today to decide whether or not coronavirus should be declared a global public health emergency.

With millions of people on the move for Chinese New Year on 25 January, the WHO predicts many more cases of the virus will occur.

Typically coronavirus causes a runny nose, cough, sore throat, headache, fever and what the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calls “a general feeling of being unwell”. 

But coronaviruses can cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, notably pneumonia, especially among very young or old people and those with weakened immune systems or existing cardiopulmonary disease.


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