Primary school bosses have told a member of staff to stay at home over fears she may have been exposed to the deadly coronavirus.

Rayne Primary School has confirmed the staff member was asked not to come into work after returning from a trip to northern Italy.

The number of coronavirus cases in Italy has soared to 400 in the last 24 hours, making it the epicentre of the outbreak in Europe.

Rayne Primary said the member of staff was being kept off work as a “precautionary” measure.

The school denied unofficial reports that the woman was feeling unwell and said she had not been in one of the 'lock-down' areas in northern Italy.

Headteacher Michelle Keeling said: “Rayne Primary and Nursery School has taken the decision to ask a member of staff to stay at home due to having been on a trip to Northern Italy.

“Whilst the staff member did not visit any one of the lock-down areas and is not experiencing any symptoms, the school has taken this extra precaution, in light of the concerns about the Covid-19 virus based on current advice from Public Health England.

“After reviewing the advice, we believe this is the most reasonable course of action to ensure the welfare of our pupils, staff and their families.”

The school has remained open.

Earlier this week, Mount Chambers Surgery, in Braintree, closed after a coronavirus scare.

The surgery, in Coggeshall Road, was advised to close after a patient displayed symptoms of coronavirus on Monday.

Tests later revealed the patient did not have coronavirus.

An NHS spokesman said: "Mount Chambers Surgery in Braintree was temporarily closed this morning to enable a clean of the surgery as a routine precautionary measure.

He added: "We apologise for any inconvenience that may have been caused.

"Safety is our priority and we have been working with public health teams to make sure there is no risk to staff and patients."

The NHS says it is well prepared for a possible outbreak of the virus in mid Essex.

Anyone with concerns about coronavirus is advised to visit the Public Health England website.