GP guidance on coronavirus updated to include advice on cleaning

Public Health England's (PHE) interim advice to primary care on Wuhan novel coronavirus (WN-CoV) has been updated with guidance on environmental cleaning following a possible case.

A health worker checks the temperature of a woman entering the subway in Beijing, China at the weekend (Photo: Betsy Joles/Stringer/Getty Images)
A health worker checks the temperature of a woman entering the subway in Beijing, China at the weekend (Photo: Betsy Joles/Stringer/Getty Images)

If a patient suspected of having the virus has attended the surgery, PHE says the room they were seen in should not be used until it has been cleaned with detergent and disinfectant. All items used to care for the patient should be bagged as clinical waste, including the contents of the bin, and quarantined until it is known whether the patient has tested positive for WN-CoV.

Fabric curtains and screens should also be bagged as infectious linen, while any cloths or mop heads used during cleaning should be disposed of as single use items.

If the patient spent any time in communal areas, these should be cleaned with detergent and disinfectant as soon as possible.

According to the initial guidance, GPs who suspect a patient could have the virus during a consultation should leave the room immediately, leaving the patient and their belongings inside, wash their hands and conduct the remainder of the consultation by phone. They should also contact the local health protection team.

If GPs suspect a patient has the virus during a telephone consultation they should avoid a face-to-face assessment in primary care and instead call the local secondary care infection specialist.

Spread of coronavirus

So far no known cases of WN-CoV have been reported in the UK. On Friday, England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said that the risk to the UK public remains low. However he added: 'there may well be cases in the UK at some stage'.

'We have tried and tested measures in place to respond. The UK is well prepared for these types of incidents, with excellent readiness against infectious diseases,' Professor Whitty said.

'We have global experts monitoring the situation around the clock and have a strong track record of managing new forms of infectious disease. We have access to some of the best infectious disease and public health experts in the world from around the UK.'

According to the BBC the number of confirmed cases of the virus in China has reached 2,827 and the number of deaths has risen to 81. At least 20 Chinese cities have been placed on lockdown in an attempt to prevent the virus spreading.

Cases have also been reported in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France and Australia.

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