25/02/2020 08:31 GMT | Updated 25/02/2020 10:22 GMT

Coronavirus: Brits Returning From Northern Italy With Symptoms Should 'Self Isolate', Health Secretary Warns

Britons with flu-like symptoms should follow the guidance, Matt Hancock said, but added there were no changes to travel advice about going to Italy.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that the official advice around coronavirus is being updated so that people returning to the UK from anywhere in northern Italy should self-isolate if they have flu-like symptoms.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, Hancock added that people returning from any areas quarantined by the Italian government should self-isolate whether they show symptoms or not.

He said: “Yes, the official advice which will be formally updated at eight o’clock this morning is going to change so that those who have been to northern Italy – north of Pisa – if they have flu-like symptoms should self-isolate.

“If people have been to the affected areas that the Italian government have quarantined then they should self-isolate whether or not they have symptoms.”

Hancock said the government was not aware of any Britons who were in the quarantined areas of northern Italy.

But he urged anyone to make contact with the embassy in Rome.

“We are not aware of any British citizens who are within the quarantined area, if they are we would ask them to get in contact with the consulate in Rome,” he said.

The health secretary said that there were no changes to travel advice about going to Italy but those returning and showing symptoms should self-isolate.

He added: “In terms of going to Italy as a whole we haven’t changed that travel advice.

“But we are clear that if you come back from northern Italy and you have symptoms then you should self-isolate.”

Hancock’s advice came as a hotel in the Canary Islands was quarantined after an Italian doctor tested positive for coronavirus. 

At least 190 people in Italy’s north have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Shortly after Hancock’s interview, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) updated the list of countries where travellers returning to the UK will need to follow clinical advice in connection with the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement on Tuesday, it said people returning from Iran, lockdown areas of northern Italy, special care zones in South Korea, and Hubei province in China since February 19 should call NHS 111, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people even if they do not have symptoms.

People returning from the following countries from the same date – who develop symptoms – should stay indoors at home and avoid contact with other people and call NHS 111:

  • Italy north of Pisa and Florence
  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Burma 

Italy has postponed a string of sports fixtures as authorities battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak in the north of the country, which has so far killed seven people, according to reports.