Last updated: 16 September 2020

The current COVID-19 global pandemic is constantly evolving. The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) data dashboard at John Hopkins University has the latest COVID-19 statistics from around the world. There is currently no vaccine available for COVID-19. 

UK four nation responses to COVID – 19


The Scottish Government has an online hub for the latest news and guidance.


All the guidance and information on the UK Government online hub is applicable in England unless otherwise stated. 


Welsh Government guidance on COVID-19 has been published and announcements are regularly updated. 

Northern Ireland

Guidance from the Northern Ireland Executive is available.

Action Plans to tackle COVID -19 in the UK

The UK Government has published an action plan, and the Scottish Government has published its response to date. The 4 phases of the UK's approach are:

  • Containment - caring for any infected people and identifying their close contacts
  • Delay - deciding what actions to take to slow down the spread
  • Mitigate - damage limitation if the virus spreads widely
  • Research - constant and ongoing work to inform the three other phases

Discussions with CMOs

Over recent months, the College has participated in teleconferences with the Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) for England and Scotland regarding coronavirus. Professor Chris Whitty (CMO England) and Dr Gregor Smith (CMO Scotland) have regularly updated representatives from the College, through online meetings and calls with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland and the UK Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. 

International update: WHO

The WHO has published online a range of public health advice and information on COVID-19, including situation reports, technical guidance, travel advice, and advice for the public about how to protect themselves.

International perspectives

To help us understand the differing responses to COVID-19 across the world, our Overseas Regional Advisers shared their local experience. You can read these international perspectives here.

MRCP(UK) Exam updates

The Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the UK is pleased to confirm that MRCP(UK) clinical and written examinations will recommence from this autumn, both in the UK and internationally, dependent on the impact of COVID-19 in each country and in accordance with their latest policies on travel, social distancing and infection control. All examination dates will be confirmed as soon as possible and we will provide candidates with further details and guidance on how things will run on the day ahead of their exam date.

To read the latest updates, guidance and advice, please visit the MRCP(UK) website.

Coronavirus Act 2020

On 17 March it was announced that new laws would be introduced in the UK through the Coronavirus Bill to protect public health, increase NHS capacity, strengthen social care and support the public. The Coronavirus Bill is now an Act of Parliament (law).

The Act sets out a wide variety of measures including some relating to NHS staff and healthcare regulation:

"The (Act) will allow recently retired NHS staff and social workers to return to work without any negative repercussions to their pensions..... It will enable regulators to emergency register suitable people as regulated healthcare professionals, such as nurses, midwives or paramedics. This might include (but will not be limited to) recently retired professionals and students who are near the end of their training. Registered staff can then be used appropriately, with decisions made on a local basis, to increase the available health and social care workforce and enable essential health and care services to function during the height of the epidemic”

What next?

The College continues to receive regular updates from relevant public health bodies and departments, including the CMOs for England and Scotland. At this stage, it is important that public health and health protection departments continue to keep the public and clinicians updated as much as possible during what is a fast-moving situation. 

I hope that you have found this update helpful. We will continue to monitor coronavirus closely, and if you have any enquiries, please do get in touch.

Dr Conor Maguire, International Vice President