A high school head teacher has issued a letter reassuring parents that children returning from an Italian ski trip were not in a coronavirus quarantine zone.

North Ayrshire pupils returned from a skiing holiday in Northern Italy earlier this month.

Following advice issued by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, John Doherty, head of Largs Academy, assured parents that the advice was directed at those who returned from Italy from February 19 onwards and so did not apply to their children.

Largs Academy pupils, who returned on February 15, were caught up in a viral outbreak, believed to be Norovirus, while at the Italian resort in Folgarida di Dimaro.

A West Kilbride parent told the Herald that despite the school telling parents to keep sick kids at home, some teachers and pupils still attended and more who were not on the ski trip are now ill.

Official advice states that anyone returning from Northern Italy should self-isolate if they have flu-like symptoms.

In England, four schools have closed after pupils came back from skiing trips.

Italy is the worst-affected country in Europe, with the COVID-19 virus responsible for 11 deaths.

Mr Doherty said: “I would like to reassure parents and pupils that our trip did not return from an area currently quarantined by the Italian government and therefore they need not self-isolate.

“The Public Health Team for NHS Ayrshire and Arran have reviewed our case and this afternoon have advised that if any of the pupils develop the following symptoms over the next four days ­— temperature, breathlessness and/or a cough – that they should contact NHS 24, let the school know and stay at home.

“Both they and I would like to reassure parents that any symptoms experienced will be much more likely to be caused by something simple like the common cold.”