NHS 111 service is giving out-of-date coronavirus advice

Will Taylor
News Reporter
Shoppers wear face masks on the streets of Rome as Italy comes under a nationwide lockdown (LaPresse/Sipa USA)

An NHS advice website is running outdated coronavirus information that goes against new government guidance.

NHS 111, which is designed to help patients by allowing them to check on their symptoms and get advice, runs a questionnaire that asks users if they have been to certain parts of the world affected by coronavirus.

Previous government advice recommended self-isolation for visitors to northern Italian towns that were first put under lockdown.

But with the entire country now under restrictions, that advice has been updated to say that any traveller who has been to anywhere in Italy since Monday should isolate even without symptoms.

However, the NHS 111 questionnaire still tells users they don’t need to self-isolate, even if the user ticks ‘yes’ when asked if they have travelled from Italy in the last two weeks.

The questionnaire asks if the user has visited coronavirus-hit Italy in the last two weeks.
The advice given on NHS 111 is at odds with new government advice on travellers to Italy

“You don’t need to speak to anybody right now as you have not been to a place that means you need to self-isolate, have not been in contact with a confirmed case, are not showing any symptoms,” the NHS 111 service states when the questionnaire is completed.

However, the latest advice on the government’s website says that returning travellers from Italy since Monday should “stay indoors and avoid contact with other people... even if you do not have symptoms”.

Tourists to Italy before 9 March have been told to stay indoors and avoid contact with people if they have symptoms like a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath.

The government advice, which runs counter to NHS 111

Visitors to Iran, Hubei province in China, and certain zones in South Korea in the last 14 days have been told to self-isolate even without symptoms.

The news comes as the UK announced a further 54 cases on Tuesday, up to 373, with six deaths of people who contracted the virus.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “They are aware of the problem and that information is being urgently updated.

“Obviously we have been setting out very clearly in public what the travel advice is in relation to Italy, both travelling to the country and returning from Italy.

“I’m aware of the issue and it is being urgently resolved.”