Three schools in Northern Ireland have told students returning from school trips to regions in the north of Italy affected by the coronavirus to remain at home as a precaution.

The schools said pupils and staff who travelled to the region were advised to follow the guidance of the Public Health Agency there and self-isolate for a fortnight.

The pupils from schools in counties Antrim, Derry and Down, were all on separate trips to Italy recently.

Around 50 pupils and staff from Cambridge House Grammar School in Ballymena, Co Antrim, were in the Lombardy region in the north of Italy.

They did not visit the nine towns affected by the virus and travelled home through Milan airport.

Principal Elma Lutton said on guidance from the education authority, based on advice from the Public Health Authority, they have asked students to spend 14 days in self-isolation.

She said it is a precautionary measure and no students are displaying any symptoms.

In Co Derry, a group of Year 10 pupils from Limavady Grammar School recently returned from Marilleva, Italy.

A statement from the school said the group returned through Milan Airport on Saturday 22 February, and that they are in self-isolation until 9 March as a "precautionary measure". 

Banbridge Academy in Co Down sent up 88 pupils and staff when they arrived back at the school following a ski trip to the resort of San Valentino.

They were told not to return to the school for 14 days if they display any flu-like symptoms.

In a letter sent home with each of the affected pupils, the school said the move was in line with guidance from the Public Health Agency.

Students and teachers from a number of secondary schools across the country travelled to northern Italy for skiing holidays over the midterm break last week.

St Paul's Community College in Waterford city said 40 students and four teachers returned from a trip to Folgaria in Italy on Saturday.

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In a statement, the school said it has been advised by the HSE that the group was "skiing in an area of zero to low risk".

The school also said the students and teachers are "all healthy and are not presenting with any symptoms of the coronavirus".

A group from Mount Anville all-girls post-primary school in Goatstown, Dublin also recently returned from northern Italy.

In a letter to parents, the school said it is not advising self-isolation at this stage and it said measures have been put in place to avoid the spread of any virus or illness.

However, Mount Anville said "parents of students with compromised immune systems or underlying illnesses may consider it prudent to keep their daughters at home until we receive further advice from the health authorities".

The school also said "any student who is unwell should remain at home".

Elsewhere, Rathdown School in Glenageary in Dublin has confirmed to RTÉ News that it has cancelled a school tour to northern Italy as a precaution, amid the ongoing concerns about Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Presentation College Bray in Co Wicklow has postponed a second year parent-teacher meeting as a precautionary measure.

A group of students and teachers from the school returned from a skiing trip in Italy last Friday.

In a message to parents on its website, the school said it has "spoken several times today with the HSE regarding the coronavirus" and it said it is waiting for further advice about its particular situation and how to proceed.

The parent-teacher meeting, which had been due to take place tonight, will be rescheduled for a later date.

Loreto High School Beaufort in Rathfarnham in Dublin has said the part of Italy a group of fifth year students and teachers travelled to recently, is not an area of concern regarding the coronavirus.

In a letter to parents and guardians, it said it was confirmed by the HSE today that the San Valentino area is not affected. 

The school also said it contacted the hotel the group stayed in, which it said is operating as normal with no cases linked.

Loreto High School Beaufort said "the advice of the HSE is that teachers and students who travelled to Italy come to school as normal".

It added that "if any person displays any two of the following symptoms: high temperature, coughing or shortness of breath, they are advised to go to their GP and follow their advice."

The Department of Education and Skills has updated information for schools following a meeting of the National Public Health emergency Team.

It said that if any students or school staff have concerns, then public health doctors are available to advise on precautions. 

The department also said anyone who travelled to the affected regions and has a cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties or fever should self-isolate and phone their GP immediately.

It said that anyone who has travelled from the affected regions and has no symptoms should visit www.HSE.ie for advice.

Additional reporting Fergal O'Brien