Port of Felixstowe on high alert over Coronavirus fears
PUBLISHED: 16:22 31 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:32 31 January 2020
Enhanced surveillance measures have been put in place at the Port of Felixstowe, following concerns about the Coronavirus.
The virus, the symptoms of which include a fever and a cough, has so far killed over 200 people in China, and there have now been two confirmed cases in the UK after two members of the same family contracted the illness.
In a statement on their website the Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority said that there were measures in place at the port following concerns about the virus.
"In response to the emerging situation and advice given by the World Health Organisation, officers from East Suffolk Council's Port Health team have implemented enhanced surveillance measures at the Port of Felixstowe," said the authority.
"A Public Health Emergency Contingency Plan, maintained by Port Health and its partners, is in place to respond to any significant issue."
The Port of Felixstowe receives a number of vessels each week from China, although the port has confirmed they do not have arrivals directly from the port in, which sits at the heart of the epidemic in China.
Also, most ships stop in other ports before reaching Felixstowe meaning that anyone with a suspected case of Coronavirus, or any other illness, would be stopped elsewhere before reaching the UK.
"All vessels that have called at any Chinese port are now required to submit a Maritime Declaration of Health (MDH) - a document from the International Health Regulations that contains information about health on-board a ship," said the port health authority.
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"In addition to assessment of the MDH, officers from the Port Health Authority are also undertaking assessment of on-board documentation and providing health protection information.
"To date, checks have all been negative however the Port Health team remains vigilant and are monitoring the international developments closely."
The advice comes as West Suffolk MP and Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that the Department for Health and Social care was working with Twitter to dispel myths about the condition.
Those who search #coronavirus will be directed towards government information as well as seeing posts carrying that hashtag.
"Public safety is our top priority and as this is a rapidly evolving situation, it's absolutely crucial everyone is able to access reliable, accurate information on Coronavirus," said Mr Hancock.
The Port of Felixstowe declined to comment on the virus.