A HEREFORD college will not close or send pupils home after they returned from a trip to northern Italy, which is currently dealing with a coronavirus outbreak.

Hereford Sixth Form College is following advice from Public Health England and other agencies to ensure its approach to concerns surrounding coronavirus is appropriate.

Several other schools and colleges in the UK have been closed, or sent students home, following skiing trips to northern Italy, even though Public Health England has confirmed it is not advising that schools shut.

"We have sought advice from Health England regarding our approach to coronavirus particularly concerning the Italian ski trip over half-term," Hereford Sixth Form College principal Peter Cooper said.

"As this did not go to the area infected and didn't fly from Milan airport we were advised that no action was required.

"We have also been in touch with the travel provider who informed us that the route taken by the bus didn't pass within 100km of the outbreak and that there are no reported cases from any of the locations that our students visited.

"The health and wellbeing of our students and staff is our number one concern so we will continue to monitor the situation and respond appropriately."

Authorities in Italy reported on Tuesday night that the number of people infected in the country grew to 322, or 45% in 24 hours, and deaths of patients with the virus rose to 11.

In the UK, a total of 6,795 people have been tested in the UK with 13 positive cases as of February 25.

Public Health England say symptoms of Covid-19 include a cough, fever and shortness of breath, and anyone concerned should self-isolate and phone NHS 111.

The organisation's medical director Paul Cosford told Radio 4's Today programme: "Schools have to take difficult decisions given the complexity of issues that they are facing.

"What I would say is that our general advice is not to close schools.

"What we are clear about is if you have been in the area of northern Italy of concern and you have symptoms - it is a cough, shortness of breath or fever - then you do need to self-isolate, you need to phone NHS 111 and await advice for further assessment or testing.

"Of course if you've been to one of the specific towns that are identified by the Italian government and essentially closed down, then our advice and requirement is to self-isolate anyway."