NI weekly papers: Coronavirus and a snowy snap

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Mussenden Temple in the snowImage source, Gurt Chittayanon
Image caption,
Gurt Chittayanon's photograph of Mussenden Temple in the snow

Concerns over coronavirus scuppered a school skip trip to Italy this week, reports the Ballymena Guardian.

Students from Dunclug College were due to jet off last Saturday for a week on the slopes of Folgaria, but as it emerged the virus was spreading rapidly across Europe, a decision was taken to cancel the break.

While Folgaria is about an hour and 40 minutes away from Italy's coronavirus quarantine area, principal Ruth Wilson wasn't taking any chances.

"The Italian government has given permission for areas to go into lock-down if the virus spreads into their jurisdiction," she said in a school statement.

"That could mean our group could be quarantined in Italy for a period of time."

Meanwhile, Cambridge House Grammar School students, who recently returned from an Italian ski trip, have been allowed back to class.

About 50 pupils were sent home from school at the beginning of last week "as a precaution" but returned the following day.

Image source, Coleraine Chronicle

The Impartial Reporter reveals the South West Acute Hospital's plans for responding to the coronavirus as more Northern Ireland cases emerge.

"A well-placed source has confirmed that a pre-existing isolation suite will be used to test anyone suspected of having the disease," writes Colm Brady.

Image source, PA Media

The source told the newspaper that "depending on how well or unwell a patient is, they will either go home to self-isolation or they will be admitted and transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where a ward has been set aside".

"All well after trip" is the headline in the Lurgan Mail.

The paper reports that 63 St Ronan's College students, who returned to school this week after a ski trip in Italy, are free of coronavirus.

None of the children or staff were in the regions affected by Covid-19, so Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride said there was no need to self-isolate, unless they were displaying symptoms such as coughing, fever or shortness of breath.

Principal Fiona Kane said: "We followed the advice of the chief medical officer and Public Health Agency to the letter."

Thousands of likes

The Ulster Herald covers the case of an Omagh man who "flipped" in anger and extensively vandalised cars because they were parked "disrespectfully" close to the cemetery in which his late mother is buried.

Gary McBlain, 41, of McClay Park, scratched panels and slashed tyres of cars belonging to GAA fans who were attending a National League match at Healy Park between Tyrone and Galway on 24 March last year.

He admitted damaging a Range Rover, a Volkswagen Transport van and a Kia Sportage.

Omagh Magistrates Court heard it was blood left at the scene that led police to arrest McBain.

He was sentenced to nine months in jail, suspended for two years.

Image source, Coleraine Chronicle

Many teenagers would grab the chance to snooze on an unexpected day off school caused by the snowy weather.

But as the Coleraine Chronicle's Julie Magee reports, Gurt Chittayanon is not "most teenagers".

Image source, Gurt Chittayanon
Image caption,
Gurt Chittayanon, 14, is a talented photographer

Wintry conditions meant he could not make it to school after icy roads were closed, but Gurt, 14, got out with his camera.

He hiked up a cliff to take a photograph of a snow-covered Mussenden Temple and a train emerging from a tunnel below.

It caused a stir on social media clocking up thousands of likes, the paper reports.

Cool FM radio said it was "an epic picture" and Translink asked him for a copy.

Gurt said humbly that he felt "very honoured" and thanked his mother for sharing the photograph on Facebook.

'A visionary'

The Chronicle also reports on a pioneering woman from Garvagh who is be honoured with a blue plaque at St Paul's Church in the village.

Dorothea Florence Macausland set up the first Women's Institute (WI) group in Northern Ireland in 1932.

She was born in India in 1888 where her father was a judge in the Indian Civil Service.

Image source, Coleraine Chronicle
Image caption,
Dorothea Macausland set up the first Women's Institute in Northern Ireland

She was educated in England, but spent holidays at Woodbank House in Garvagh.

As a Red Cross nurse, the paper reports, she knew the perils of war, when the troop ship she was on was torpedoed during World War One.

Later, she lectured on women's health before setting up a Women's Institute branch in Garvagh.

Invitations to its inaugural meeting at Woodbank House were delivered by her nieces on bicycles.

Image source, Coleraine Chronicle
Image caption,
The plaque is at St Paul's Church, Garvagh, where Miss Macausland is buried

There was much suspicion on the part of local men, but she moved forward, recruiting 80 WI members by the end of its first year.

She was, the paper reports, "a visionary" who gave "a sense of pride to many generations of women".

The plaque was unveiled by Miss Macausland's great niece during a ceremony on Friday morning.

Three pupils were sent home from a County Down primary school on Tuesday after being found in possession of knives, the Newtownards Chronicle reports.

The paper says the three children were immediately suspended.

In a statement issued through the Education Authority (EA), the school said "all appropriate and necessary" action was taken and that the health and safety of the pupils was a priority.

The mother of a child at the school told the paper she was "outraged and horrified" that children had potentially been put at risk by the three, "who may or may not have had intentions to hurt someone in class".

However, she also praised the school for their swift response to the incident.