KCC Public Health Statement Wuhan novel coronavirus outbreak

This statement has been received from the Director of Public Health Kent County Council.

“I write with an update on the County Council’s planning to address local implications arising from the ongoing Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) outbreak. Colleagues from Education, Social Care, Human Resources, Communications and Emergency Planning are working pro-actively with Public Health England (PHE) to ensure our approach in ensuring optimal infection control and public confidence fully reflects evolving national guidance and we will continue to meet regularly with PHE to dynamically address any local issues we face in Kent.

Public Health England (PHE) continue to provide regular updates on the virus, which provide the most up-to-date and authoritative advice for Members, KCC staff, schools, commissioned service providers and other stakeholders. This advice can be promoted and sign-posted in the event of issues relating to the outbreak being communicated to you by residents or local groups.  The latest Wuhan novel coronavirus advice is available here​​.

Significantly, KCC should continue to promote good infection control and there are simple things we can all do to reduce the risk of respiratory and other infections such as seasonal colds and flu such as:

Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
PHE also maintain an informative online blog which is available here​. 

Current Public Health England advice is as follows:

Based on the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) the UK Chief Medical Officers are advising anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and is experiencing cough or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.

Travellers from Wuhan and Hubei Province

If you have travelled from Wuhan or Hubei Province to the UK in the last 14 days you should immediately:

•stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu

•call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the area

Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus.

Travellers from other parts of China and other specified areas

This advice applies to travellers who have returned to the UK from the following areas:

•China

•Thailand

•Japan

•Republic of Korea

•Hong Kong

•Taiwan

•Singapore

•Malaysia

•Macau

If you have returned to the UK from any of these areas in the last 14 days and develop symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath, you should immediately:

•stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu

•call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the country

Please follow this advice even if your symptoms are minor, if you are not showing any symptoms then you do not need to follow the above guidance.

In this case, it is critical to understand whether the person returning from China has come from Wuhan or Hubei Province, or another part of China and whether they are symptomatic.

Contacts are currently not being considered at greater risk, unless they have had contact with a confirmed case, as PHE advised on Friday.

Further, PHE advocates that local Business Continuity Planning policy related to the outbreak is the responsibility of the organisations involved. We therefore continue to work closely with schools, care providers and other stakeholders to seek to ensure that local policy and practice in relation to the outbreak is both proportionate and evidence-led. We further continue to monitor closely community cohesion issues and promote good science, including generic advice on infection control.

As a postscript, KCC has been asked by several schools for advice where there is a risk that a pupil, student, parent or member of staff has been in contact with someone who has been advised to self-isolate.  PHE advice is that every incident should be treated independently and that the school should contact Public Health England, Kent Health Protection Team (South East) on:

Office hours:             0344 225 3861 option 1

Out of hours:            0844 967 0085

Email:                         

Address:                    Civic Centre Level 2, Tannery Lane, Ashford, TN23 1PL

A letter addressing issues relevant to educational establishments has been developed with PHE and will be sent to all Kent Schools signed by Andrew Scott- Clark (Director of Public Health) and Matt Dunkley (Corporate Director CYPE).

Recent days and weeks have brought considerable concerns for a number of residents and communities touched in some way by impacts from the virus at home and abroad. Our public health and emergency planning arrangements in Kent will continue to pull together our hardworking staff, partners and Members to mitigate and minimise impacts from the outbreak wherever possible.”