THE Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis says it is following “all appropriate measures” after students returned from a ski trip in Italy this week, sparking some concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
Some schools across the country have closed or sent students home after they returned from trips to northern Italy, where an outbreak of the virus, also known as COVID-19, has been reported this week.
Year 10 students and staff from Woodroffe travelled to Italy for their annual ski trip over the half term break last week, but have been advised that the area they visited has been listed as ‘Category 2’.
This means travellers do not need to undertake any special measures, but if they develop symptoms of coronavirus they should self-isolate and call NHS 111.
On Tuesday it was reported that authorities had isolated several small towns in northern Italy after 95 new cases of the virus were announced, bringing the country’s total to 322 and fatalities to 11.
There were fears the outbreak could see the virus spread quickly across Europe, and the UK government has now updated its advice for those who have recently travelled to the affected areas.
The Foreign Office is now warning against non-essential travel to 10 towns in Lombardy (Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano) and one in Veneto (Vo’ Euganeo), which have been isolated by the Italian authorities
Anyone returning from these towns has been asked to self-isolate to stop the spread of the virus. Those who have recently travelled north of Pisa are also advised to stay at home for 14 days if they develop flu-like symptoms.
Following this advice, it was reported that four schools had closed as a precautionary measure after students returned from trips in northern Italy, including Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire, Trinity Catholic College in Middlesborough, and Gedney Church End and Lutton St Nicholas primary schools in the Spalding area of Lincolnshire.
Several others also took the decision to send some staff and pupils home, including in County Antrim, Ireland, Pembrokeshire in Wales, Guernsey in the Channel Islands, Yorkshire, Berkshire, Teeside and Cornwall.
‘Taking appropriate action where necessary’
The Woodroffe School has not sent any students home and headteacher Dan Watts has been updating parents with advice from the government to alleviate concerns.
In a statement sent to parents he said: “As a school, we have taken advice and followed all appropriate government measures at this time. We are continuing to monitor the advice being given and are taking appropriate action where necessary.
“All of our stakeholders have been updated with the current position and we will continue to ensure that information is shared in a sensitive and timely manner.
“We are aware of the concerns that individuals may have and want to reassure people that the risk of infection within the UK remains low (Public Health England 26/2/20).
“We have circulated a government produced information sheet advising on how individuals can reduce their exposure to risk and would encourage everyone to read this advice.”
Mr Watts said the the school’s tour operator had confirmed that the routes taken by those on the ski trip were at least 100km from any of the affected areas.
Sixth form students and staff who recently returned from a separate ski trip in Austria were also outside the current exclusion zone.
‘No need to avoid normal activities’
Mr Watts added: “Currently there are minimal cases outside the risk areas and therefore the likelihood of an individual coming into contact with a confirmed case is low.
“There is no need to advise any of these pupils, students or staff to avoid normal activities or educational settings unless they have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
“We hope this information helps to reassure people during this time.”
According to the latest figures released by the World Health Organization, there are now 80,239 confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world and there have been 2,700 deaths. A total of 33 countries are now affected with most cases still in China, where the virus started in Wuhan.
Symptoms include fever, diarrhoea, a dry cough, shortness of breath and general body aches. If you have recently travelled to a high-risk area – or if you’ve been in contact with somebody who has – and you develop symptoms, the NHS advises that you should not go to a doctor’s surgery or hospital. Instead, call NHS 11 for advice.