Coronavirus – information for BGS members

10 February 2020

The BGS is sharing information about coronavirus because older people may suffer more severe symptoms than others if they contract this strain of coronavirus, and health professionals need to be aware of the risks for public health.  

As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the four UK Chief Medical officers from the England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. The risk to individuals remains low.

Public Health England publish a daily update which provides information on the current outbreak and advice on what people should do if they think they may have come into contact with the virus or experience symptoms. Public Health England has also published clinical guidance for health professionals on case definitions, assessment, infection prevention, control and testing. The NHS has also published information on coronavirus.