Italy has stepped up its precautionary measures after the outbreak of a new SARS-like coronavirus in China, with alerts being sent out to family doctors and the launch of a crisis unit.
The health minister had already announced on Tuesday that fever scanners will be set up at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for Thursday’s next flight from Wuhan, where the mysterious virus has killed at least 17 people.
Family doctors are being sent information about the disease spread, its symptoms and how cases should be handled.
The Italian Society of Infective and Tropical Diseases (SIMIT), meanwhile, has created a crisis unit to work with the health ministry and the Higher Health Institute.
In the UK, the Foreign Office has advised Britons against all but essential travel to the Chinese city of Wuhan. Screening for signs of the virus is in place at major US airports, while Britain’s transport secretary said a separate area was being set up at London Heathrow to monitor arrivals from the city.
The first case in the US was identified this week, while others have been diagnosed in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
All of them had been to Wuhan – the Chinese city with an 11 million population where the virus is believed to have started – with illegally trafficked animals at a market being named as the likely source.
Symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.