Government tracing 2,000 passengers who arrived from Wuhan in past two weeks amid coronavirus fears
The Government are tracing more than 2,000 passengers who flew from Wuhan to the UK in the past two weeks as part of measures to tackle the coronavirus threat.
The Department for Health has been working with airlines and the Border Force to get hold of manifests for flights arriving from the Chinese province in the past fortnight.
It comes as the UK steps up its precautions against the disease following reports of two confirmed cases in the united states.
The virus can incubate inside a person’s system for several days before they show any visible symptoms, which is why officials want to check on those who arrived in the last 14 days.
There are usually three flights per week from Wuhan, which is the epicentre of the outbreak and has now been put on lockdown by Beijing.
Which means there are thought to be around 2,500 potential passengers and crew members who had arrived from China over that period, though many will have already since left.
Earlier the health secretary Matt Hancock chaired an emergency Cobra meeting to update ministers on the work being done to tackle the situation.
So far 14 people have been tested for the disease on British soil, but have all come back negative.
After the meeting the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, revealed a “public health hub” will be set up at Heathrow airport from today.
He said: “We all agree that the risk to the UK public remains low, but there may well be cases in the UK at some stage.
“We have tried and tested measures in place to respond.
“The UK is well prepared for these types of incidents, with excellent readiness against infectious diseases.”
But in an interview Professor Whitty said there was “a fair chance” the UK may see some confirmed cases over time.
He added: "I think we should definitely see this as a marathon, not a sprint, we need to have our entire response based on that principle.
"At the minute it definitely looks like this is a lot less dangerous if you get it than Ebola, and a lot less dangerous than the recent coronavirus MERS, and it's probably less dangerous if you get it than SARS virus.
"What we don't know is how far it's going to spread, that really is something we need to plan for all eventualities."