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UK Public Health Rapid Support Team deployed to help international coronavirus effort

The UK Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST) has deployed public health specialists around the world to help limit the transmission of COVID-19 and save lives.
UK-PHRST deployment to DRC for Ebola outbreak - May-June 2018 (Credit: LSHTM)

This is just one of the steps that the UK government is taking as part of the international response to coronavirus.

The team currently has personnel on the ground in the Philippines, Ethiopia and Nepal, with further deployments planned to Malaysia and India in the coming days. A scientist will also be deployed to the World Health Organisation in Switzerland to support the overarching global response.

To help improve scientific understanding of COVID-19, specialists in tracking outbreaks and experts in infection and prevention control, laboratory diagnostics, social science, and clinical care will work with public health specialists and scientists already on the ground.

The UK-PHRST also recently travelled to Nigeria to assist with setting up laboratory diagnostics for COVID-19.

The UK-PHRST is jointly run by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Public Health England, and is funded by UK Aid from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Professor Daniel Bausch, Director of the UK-PHRST said:

“We are assisting our partners across the globe to support their response to COVID-19. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide all the technical support we can.

“These deployments are an important contribution to global health security. Tackling the outbreak overseas is the best approach to protect both the UK and populations worldwide, now and in the future.”

The news follows UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and the National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC) of China issuing a joint statement today highlighting their shared commitment to strengthen global collaborations and encourage openness and data sharing on tackling COVID-19.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:  

“Tackling coronavirus requires a huge effort from all countries which is why the UK is bringing together the global scientific community to speed up the development of vaccines and treatments.”

Overall, the Government has pledged up to £241 million towards the international efforts to tackle the coronavirus.

The risk of COVID-19 to the UK population remains moderate.

Background:

  • The deployments to the Philippines, Nepal, Malaysia, India and Switzerland are at the request of the World Health Organization (WHO) through the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN). The deployments to Ethiopia are at the request of the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC). The deployment to Nigeria was at the request of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
  • The UK-PHRST can rapidly deploy public health experts at 48 hours’ notice to strengthen a country’s response to outbreaks, stopping the spread of disease and saving lives. Since it was established in 2016, the UK-PHRST has responded to 12 global outbreaks, fighting outbreaks such as Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lassa fever in Nigeria, diphtheria in the displaced Rohingya population in Bangladesh, and pneumonic and bubonic plague in Madagascar.
  • The team also conducts innovative research to improve epidemic preparedness and response, as well as supports countries to build national capacity to respond to outbreaks.