Passengers on flights bound for the UK from China will be observed for signs of the fast-spreading coronavirus after the death toll reached nine people.
The virus has been noted for to its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people back in 2002-2003.
According to The Mirror, international flights to Heathrow Airport now include air crew observation of passengers, similar to steps taken by Australia and the US to identify potential carriers before they arrive at their destination.
Li Bin, deputy director of the National Health Commission in China, said that the illness has ‘the possibility of viral mutation and further spread of the disease’.
It is believed that animals could be the suspected primary source of the outbreak, with a seafood market selling live animals in Wuhan in Hubei province being identified as ground zero for the virus.
The World Health Organisation reported that The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan city was closed on 1 January 2020 for
environmental sanitation and disinfection.
Gao Fu, director of the Chinese centre for disease control and prevention, explained in a report published by Rappler: “We already know that the disease originated from a market which conducted illegal transaction of wild animals.
“This might be the cause, so the disease could be on an animal, and then passed on from this animal to a human.”
He added that it was clear ‘this virus is adapting and mutating.’
According to a report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been in regular and direct contact with Chinese as well as Japanese, Korean and
Thai authorities since the reporting of these cases.
The three countries have shared
information with the WHO under international health regulations. The organisation is also informing
other countries about the situation and providing support as requested.
A Queensland Health spokesperson said: “Because the man travelled to Wuhan, coronavirus is one of the conditions he is being tested for. The man will remain in isolation until his symptoms have resolved.
“We urge anyone who has developed any respiratory symptoms within 14 days of travel to Wuhan to see their GP immediately.”
China has announced it is making the virus a top priority and will do everything it can to stop it from spreading to other countries.
President Xi Jinping said: “People’s lives and health should be given top priority and the spread of the outbreak should be resolutely curbed.“