A HEADTEACHER moved to reassure parents worried about the spread of coronavirus after pupils returned from a skiing trip in Italy.

In a letter to parents, Scott Holder, headteacher at Philip Morant, addressed fears over whether the school should be closed to prevent an outbreak.

This week pupils returned to their classes after a half-term skiing trip in northern Italy.

The coronavirus has infected more than 300 people in Italy with most cases discovered in the north near Milan, claiming 12 lives.

There have been 13 confirmed cases of the virus in the UK, but no cases have been officially recorded in Essex.

Mr Holder said the pupils did not visit the quarantined towns.

“Following news headlines and information circulating on social media sites, we are aware that some parents are concerned about whether the school should be closed due to some students returning from a ski-trip at half-term,” he said.

“We have been in regular contact with Public Health England over the last two days and are following their advice.

“Our students did not visit the towns that have been quarantined.

“The area visited is listed in category 2 for ‘Italy: North’ on Public Health England.

“The group travelled by coach to the ski resort and did not fly.

“The guidance is - travellers do not need to undertake any special measures, but if they develop symptoms they should self-isolate and call NHS 111.”

He added: “The advice from Public Health England is for the school to remain open as normal.

“We have published advice on good hygiene on the website to prevent any spread of infections and advise all students and staff to follow this advice.”

Two GP surgeries which closed after potential coronavirus scares were due to reopen yesterday afternoon.

Rowhedge Surgery, in Rectory Road, and Mersea Island Medical Practice closed to patients on Tuesday as a precaution following a potential case of the virus at the surgeries.

In its guidance to students studying abroad, Essex University said: “We are closely monitoring advice from Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the World Health Organisation and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have also been taking advice from our occupational health team.

“We are meeting on a regular basis to ensure we have the most up to date information and are sharing knowledge across the university community.”

The university urged students who become unwell within 14 days of travelling to the affected areas to stay away from its Wivenhoe campus.

The Gazette approached North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, but it declined to comment.