School closed as precaution against coronavirus

England's top doctor warns whole families could be quarantined if virus becomes a global pandemic

Coronavirus

Pupils have been sent home and a school has closed as a precaution against coronavirus after students returned from ski trips in Italy.

Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire, is closed for the rest of the week for a "deep clean" after pupils and teachers came back from the Lombardy region.

Headteacher Richard Pollock said he was advised by the NHS to ensure those who visited the region in northern Italy last week would self-isolate.


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In a message to parents, he said the independent school would be closed to "minimise possible spread of infection".

"During this time, the school will be able to conduct a deep clean, and monitor the results of tests among those pupils who are currently showing flu-like symptoms," Mr Pollock said.

Meanwhile, Sandbach High School in Cheshire said students and staff who visited Aprica, also in the Lombardy region, were to stay indoors and self-isolate.

However, a message on the school's website said no one at the school was showing any symptoms of the virus.

A third Cheshire school, Brine Leas School in Nantwich, said on Twitter it had closed its sixth form due to staff shortages.

The message followed an earlier tweet which said the academy was "following government advice regarding travel to Italy". 

Elsewhere, students from Penair School in Truro, Cornwall, were sent home on Tuesday morning after attending a ski trip.

The secondary school said on Facebook it was following advice from Public Health England and that it was a "precautionary measure".

However, it later posted that the children and staff who attended the ski trip were now able to return to school after further guidance from Public Health England.

In addition, about 50 pupils and staff from a school in Ballymena in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, were sent home after visiting the same region in northern Italy.

The group did not visit the nine towns affected by the infection and are showing no symptoms, but travelled through Milan airport, Cambridge House Grammar School principal Elma Lutton said.

Coronavirus impact

The news comes as England's top doctor warned schools could be shut, whole families quarantined and transport reduced if coronavirus became a global pandemic.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told reporters on Tuesday that there were a number of contingency plans if the virus were to spread throughout the country.

Speaking at the Department of Health and Social Care in central London, Professor Whitty said a number of options would be looked at depending on the scale of infection.

He added: "There's no secret there's a variety of things you need to look at – you look at things like school closures, you look at things like reducing transport.

"The expectation is not that we will do all these things. The expectation is we will be looking systematically, using the science, at all the building blocks and balancing the effects against costs to society."

Two weeks ago, at least seven schools in East Sussex had pupils or staff who were quarantined as a precaution, after several cases of coronavirus were diagnosed in the area.

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.

Tens of thousands of infections and thousands of deaths have been recorded in China.

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