Coronavirus in the UK: An update for expats

  • Coronavirus in the UK
Published 2020-03-18 06:14

On December 31st 2019, China alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to a growing number of pneumonia-like cases in Wuhan, caused by an unknown virus. By January 7th, the new virus had been identified and was later named COVID-19 - part of a family of coronaviruses that include the common cold and SARS.

The latest figures from the WHO list 242,726 confirmed cases and 9,870 deaths around the world. 

Here, we present the coronavirus situation in the UK as it has evolved since the first cast was confirmed at the end of January. 

A brief timeline of Coronavirus in the UK 

It was confirmed that coronavirus had spread to the UK on 31st January 2020, the first two cases being in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north east of England. On the 11th March coronavirus was declared by the WHO to be a pandemic. The first death from coronavirus in the UK was reported in Scotland on 13th March. 

On March 16th, Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised in a televised update that all non-essential travel and contact should be avoided. He went on to advise that the public should avoid pubs, theatres, clubs and bars, and endeavour to work at home wherever possible. Borders currently remain open, however with Europe enforcing its own restrictions travel will be severely restricted in the coming weeks. 

What are the latest Co-Vid19 statistics in the UK?

As of March 16th, the number of cases has surpassed 1,500, while the death toll stands at 55. At the moment, the worst affected area is London with 480 confirmed cases.  

What is happening with travel? 

While the UK borders do currently remain open, restrictions in mainland Europe and internationally will severely restrict travel options via air and land. Many airlines have grounded most of their flights due to these governmental restrictions and a lack of demand. ‘Rescue flights’ will continue to operate in the coming days to get people home. For advice, check the website of your airline or your local embassy for guidance.

What are the current restrictions and closures? 

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also stated that those over 70 will be asked to self-isolate in the coming days along with those who are pregnant, and those with underlying health conditions. He has also advised people to avoid public places including theatres, bars, restaurants and clubs, however has not delivered a specific order that they be closed to the public. Regardless of this, due to the current announcements, many have closed their doors voluntarily, including cinemas and London’s West End theatre district. 

What measures have the government announced to help people?

The British government announced on Tuesday March 17th that a package of measures to help British businesses survive the current pandemic will be made available. Details of these measures have yet to be announced.