50 pupils and staff sent home as coronavirus precaution after Italy ski trip

Around 50 pupils and staff from a school in Northern Ireland have been sent home as a precaution against coronavirus after returning from an Italian ski holiday.

The group, from Ballymena in Co Antrim, were in the Lombardy region in the north of Italy but did not visit nine towns affected by the infection and are showing no symptoms.

They travelled through Milan airport, Cambridge House Grammar School principal Elma Lutton said.

She added: “Taking cognisance of advice from the Public Health Agency and following advice from the education authority, the pupils and staff on that ski trip have been sent home for 14 days self-quarantine.

“This is precautionary – none of them were in those nine towns, none are showing any symptoms.

“They were in the Lombardy region but went through Milan airport.”

There are strict quarantine restrictions in two northern hotspots close to Milan and Venice.

Thousands of people cannot enter or leave several towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions for the next two weeks without special permission.

HEALTH Coronavirus
HEALTH Coronavirus

Outside the zone, sporting events have been cancelled and many schools and businesses have suspended normal operations.

Cambridge House Grammar is one of the leading schools in Ballymena, with more than 900 pupils.

One of the parents whose child was not affected, Marty Adams, said: “As a parent, and I am sure every parent would echo the same, this is a matter of concern.

“I am glad to see that precautions are in place and hopefully no-one will be affected by it, but people were able to return to the school and spend some time in the school.”

The new strain of coronavirus originated last year in Hubei province in China.

It causes a respiratory disease called Covid-19 and produces flu-like symptoms.

China has seen thousands of infections and deaths.