Around 150 British Citizens are being flown from Wuhan City in China, the epicentre of the current outbreak of Novel Coronavirus, back to the United Kingdom on Sunday 9 February.
Everyone being repatriated will be assessed before boarding the plane in China, monitored during the flight and will continue to be monitored after landing in the UK.
A facility at Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes is being used to house these returning citizens and they will remain at the site in isolation for 14 days. During this time their health will be regularly assessed.
This is the second facility of this type that has been set up in the UK following the successful repatriation to Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral last month.
The isolation of the guests in Milton Keynes is being undertaken as a highly precautionary measure as they have been at the epicentre of the outbreak and at increased risk of exposure to the virus.
The presence of this group in Milton Keynes does not present any risk to local people. No one showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus infection (2019-nCoV) would have been allowed to board the plane when it was in China.
During their time in Milton Keynes, the group will be regularly assessed by highly experienced healthcare professionals and will be provided with support to meet any social and emotional needs during their stay. All staff working at the facility will be wearing appropriate protective equipment at all times. Anyone showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) will be assessed and if appropriate undergo testing for the virus.
The local site has been chosen because it offers appropriate accommodation and other facilities for those coming back from Wuhan while they stay in Milton Keynes. It also allows their health to be regularly monitored and has the necessary medical facilities close at hand should they be required.
The process of repatriation has been led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, and the support of the Department of Health and Social Care, the NHS and Public Health England.
The UK is well prepared for these types of incidents and there is rapid and effective testing undertaken by PHE available for this virus. The NHS has expert teams of highly-trained staff and specialist hospital units around the country ready to receive and care for any patients with any highly infectious disease. The NHS adheres to the highest safety standards for the protection of its staff, patients and the public.
Based on current evidence, Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild.
There is more information and advice on Novel Coronavirus on the Government’s website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public
Frequently asked questions
- Are staff entering the facility where the groups are being kept required to wear full PPE?
Staff entering the facility are taking appropriate infection prevention and control precautions including wearing appropriate PPE.
- The people who drove the buses that transported the group were not wearing PPE – does this pose a risk to the wider community?
Seating arrangements ensured that the drivers were not in close contact with the passengers on the journey, which meant they were not at risk and did not require PPE. Close contact means being within two metres of an infected person for at least fifteen minutes. The measures we put in place to address this were to block off five rows at the front and boarding the drivers last. The drivers do not pose a risk to public health as a result of driving these passengers to their accommodation and should go about their daily lives as normal.
- If NHS staff need to enter the site, will they be provided with full PPE?
Staff entering the facility are taking appropriate infection prevention and control precautions including wearing appropriate PPE provided by the facility.
- Are those who have been repatriated being assessed daily by a medical team?
There is an onsite clinical team and checks are being made daily on all those in the facility
- Is the site being regularly cleaned to help stop the spread of infection?
Appropriate cleaning is being undertaken onsite.
- Why was this site chosen?
The local site has been chosen because it offers appropriate accommodation and other facilities for those coming back from Wuhan while they stay in Milton Keynes. It also allows the health of those in the group to be regularly monitored and has the necessary medical facilities close at hand should they be required.
- There are schools in the area, do these people pose a risk?
This group being repatriated will be kept in isolation on the site and so they pose no risk to the wider community, including any school children.
- If they test negative, will they be allowed to leave?
As the incubation period is 14 days, people may still develop the virus even after an initial test. They will therefore be asked to remain at the facility until day 14.
- What will happen if they test positive?
If a result does come back positive they will be isolated appropriately and receive the necessary specialist care within the NHS.