Coronavirus: Brits returning from Italy told to self-isolate after Covid-19 outbreak
Brits returning from northern Italy should self-isolate if they experience symptoms associated with the coronavirus outbreak, the UK’s health secretary said today.
Matt Hancock advised anyone travelling back to the UK from north of Pisa to stay at home for a period of two weeks if they exhibit flu-like symptoms.
It follows Italy confirming seven coronavirus deaths and a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 cases to 229 yesterday, up from just three on Friday.
“The official advice which will be formally updated at eight o’clock this morning is going to change so that those who have been to northern Italy – north of Pisa – if they have flu-like symptoms should self-isolate,” Hancock told BBC Breakfast.
“If people have been to the affected areas that the Italian government have quarantined then they should self-isolate whether or not they have symptoms.”
Italy also put around 11 towns under lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus strain. Those include Lombardy and Veneto. And Hancock said anybody coming home after visiting those quarantined towns should also self-isolate. Any Brits still in those towns should contact the British embassy in Rome, he said. Around 50,000 people are in the locked down towns.
“If you have returned from these areas since 19 February and develop symptoms, however mild, you should stay indoors at home and avoid contact with other people immediately and call NHS111,” the government’s official advice now reads. “You do not need to follow this advice if you have no symptoms.”
So far the UK has counted 13 cases of the coronavirus, but no deaths. Nine people out of 6,536 tested for Covid-19 returned positive results. And four further cases came from the evacuation of Brits stuck on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
Yesterday Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated that the risk to British citizens remained low. However, the UK’s chief medical officers have raised the general UK risk from low to moderate.