UK launches coronavirus public information campaign

Author: Ingrid Torjesen

A UK-wide public information campaign has been launched to advise the public on how to slow the spread of coronavirus and reduce the impact on NHS services.

The launch of the campaign follows confirmation that the virus has reached the UK with two people in York diagnosed with the infection on Friday.

The government-funded campaign will include public health advice on how people can protect themselves from infection. Similar to the ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ campaign used for flu and norovirus it will promote important hygiene practices, such as regularly washing hands and always sneezing into a tissue, to stem the spread of viruses.

HM government and NHS-branded information, advising the public to always carry tissues and use them to catch coughs and sneezes, and then bin the tissues, and to wash hands with soap and water, or use sanitiser gel, to kill germs, will appear in radio and print media, and on social media.

While the government has detailed plans for how to deal with an outbreak like coronavirus, the public can play its part in preventing the spread of infection, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said. “Basic hygiene such as washing our hands regularly and using tissues when we cough and sneeze can play an important role in minimising the spread of viruses like this. Today we have launched a UK-wide public information campaign to help the public protect themselves and each other.”

People who have travelled back from the Hubei province in China within the last 14 days are being asked to isolate themselves by staying indoors and avoiding contact with other people and to call NHS 111 (or their GP in Northern Ireland) to inform them of their recent travel to the city, the official advice says. Anyone who has travelled from anywhere else in China (not including Macao or Hong Kong) to the UK in the last 14 days and develops symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath should immediately self-isolate, even if symptoms are minor, and call NHS 111.

The two people diagnosed with coronavirus in York on Friday are Chinese nationals and members of the same family. One is a student at the University of York but both were staying at a hotel in the city.  Both are being treated at a hospital in Newcastle and Public Health England is attempting to trace people who may have had contact with them.

Coronavirus presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough or difficulty breathing.