NI paper review: Local coronavirus threat dominates front pages

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Man wearing a face mask in London with union flags draped on flagpoles in the backgroundImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
People returning to the UK from northern Italy have been advised to self-quarantine if they have symptoms

There may not yet have been a confirmed case of coronavirus in Northern Ireland, but going by Wednesdays's papers, the threat is growing.

All four of the regional titles carry stories focusing on the virus.

The News Letter, Irish News, and Daily Mirror all feature the story of pupils from several Northern Ireland schools returning from a ski trip in the affected area of northern Italy.

In recent days Italy has become the worst affected in Europe, with more than 300 confirmed cases and 11 deaths.

'You hear about this stuff on the news'

Under the headline "Ulster school kids in quarantine", the Daily Mirror reports the dozens of children affected are from Banbridge Academy, Limavady Grammar, Antrim Grammar School and Cambridge House Grammar School in Ballymena.

Image source, Daily Mirror

Principals from a number of schools took the decision to send their pupils and staff home.

"You hear about this sort of stuff on the news but you don't expect it to be on your doorstep," said the parent of one pupil at Banbridge Academy.

Image source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
Pupils from Banbridge Academy recently returned from a trip to northern Italy

The recommendation from the schools to self-quarantine was given in line with guidance from the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

The front of Wednesday's Belfast Telegraph takes a different look at the story, focusing on the exposure faced by Northern Ireland's GPs.

It reports doctors have not yet been given protective suits or face masks to protect them from the virus.

'It's not like I force them'

Elsewhere the Belfast Telegraph has the story of a six-year-old who been invited to take part in fashion shows in Paris and New York.

Paulina Reynolds' daughter, six-year-old Hailey-Jane from Ballyhegan in County Armagh, recently walked the runway at a part of London Fashion Week focusing on children's clothes.

"For myself, I don't do anything that my kids don't enjoy and don't want to do," said Ms Reynolds.

"It's not like I force them to do it. I always ask them if they want to and if they enjoy it. If I see they don't, they don't have to do it."

The Irish News also reports the shocking experience of a west Belfast woman who was on a Glider bus in Belfast when a window was smashed by a brick.

Joelle Curoe said she was "really shaken up" by the incident.

"We all had to get off as [the driver] couldn't drive in case the glass came in, which I understand, but a lot of us were afraid to get off where these scumbags were standing," she said.

'It's why grey squirrels are declining'

Elsewhere in Wednesday's News Letter, there is news of a comeback for the red squirrel.

Image source, News Letter

In recent times the animal's existence has been under threat from competition with its grey relative.

Image source, Victoria Gill
Image caption,
Red squirrels could be undergoing a resurgence

A study from Queen's University has found red squirrels were better at being vigilant once exposed to the scent of a pine marten - a recovering predator in the UK.

"[It explains] why grey squirrel populations are declining wherever the pine marten recovers," said Queen's in a statement.