Public Health England is advising local authorities on preparations in the event that the deadly coronavirus is detected within the borough.
The UK has not had any confirmed cases of the virus which has swept China, infecting almost 3,000 and killing 81 since it emerged at the beginning of January, but authorities around the world have been closely monitoring the outbreak.
Southend Council has confirmed that it is receiving advice from Public Health England but stressed the risk remains low.
Councillor Trevor Harp, who oversees health and adult social care, said: “We are receiving regular updates from Public Health England, who are advising local authorities nationally.
“Based on current evidence the risk to the UK population is low, but there is more information, including advice to travellers, on the Public Health England website.”
GPs have also been given guidance from the Public Health England to isolate anyone with symptoms of the virus and not to examine them.
They are also being told to check the travel history of patients.