Those infected with the virus present with acute respiratory symptoms.
Public Health England (PHE) has issued interim advice to primary care services on how to deal with potential cases of coronavirus.
Patients at risk of the virus will have recently returned from Wuhan city in China and present with acute respiratory symptoms.
If a patient is suspected of having the virus, the guidance instructs staff to avoid physical contact, immediately leave the consultation room, isolate the patient and seek expert advice.
According to a statement from the Department of Health and Social Care, the risk to the UK remains ‘low’ but is being kept under constant review.
The guidance reads; “An unwell patient with a relevant travel history should be identified when they book in at reception and placed in a room away from other patients and staff. If WN-CoV is considered possible when a consultation is already in progress, withdraw from the room, close the door and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
“Avoid physical examination of a suspected case. The patient should remain in the room with the door closed. Belongings and waste should remain in the room.
“Advise others not to enter the room. If a clinical history still needs to be obtained or completed, do this by telephone.
“The patient should not be allowed to use communal toilet facilities. Instruct them to not touch anything or anyone when walking to the toilet. Instruct the patient to wash their hands thoroughly after toileting.”
Following this, staff should “seek further specialist advice from a local microbiologist, virologist or infectious diseases physician.”
Maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene.
Dr Nick Phin, deputy director of the National Infection Service, Public Health England, said, “This is a new and rapidly evolving situation where information on cases and the virus is being gathered and assessed daily.
“Based on the available evidence, the current risk to the UK is considered low. We are working with the World Health Organisation and other international partners, which have issued advice to the NHS and are keeping the situation under constant review.
“If you are travelling to Wuhan, you should maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene and should avoid visiting animal and bird markets or people who are ill with respiratory symptoms.
“Individuals should seek medical attention if they develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan, either in China or on their return to the UK. They should phone ahead before attending any health services and mention their recent travel to the city.”