A school has dispelled rumours that a pupil had contracted coronavirus after a fake screenshot was circulated on social media.

John F Kennedy Catholic School in Hemel Hempstead said a precautionary message sent out yesterday to parents about coronavirus was "doctored" by an adult to state that one of its students was in "intensive care" due to Covid-19.

The rumour at John F Kennedy Catholic School spread rapidly across south west Hertfordshire yesterday afternoon, with youngsters sharing the fake Snapchat screenshot of an email purporting to be from the deputy head teacher.

This paper was also asked to enquire about the authenticity of the email.

The email has since been confirmed to be a hoax, with the deputy head teacher later emailing parents to tell them to ignore rumours about a coronavirus case.

A spokesperson from John F Kennedy Catholic School said: “We can confirm that as a precautionary message, general health advice about coronavirus was sent to a number of our parents yesterday.

“Unfortunately this email was 'doctored' by an adult to state that one of our pupils was in intensive care, and circulated on social media. As soon as this came to our attention, a second email was sent to parents to reassure them that this was a hoax.

“We can confirm that none of our pupils are showing any symptoms of coronavirus.”

The fake screenshot of the email, with the subject title ‘JFK – Coronavirus’, read: “In light of the recent news reports about the Coronavirus, I am saddened to share with you that JFK today has their first confirmed case of Coronavirus.

“With a child now in intensive care following our recent trip to Italy over half-term. The child attended school today so all are at risk of the virus.

“Whilst no students are exhibiting any symptoms yet. We are advising parents/carers and students to follow the NHS guidelines.”

The email was signed by the deputy head teacher.

Later that afternoon, the deputy headteacher sent an email making clear that there was no confirmed case of coronavirus at the school.

His email read: “This afternoon, an email went out regarding the recent Ski trip and government advice about Coronavirus.

“It has come to light that somebody has shared information on social media stating a confirmed case of Coronavirus with a child being admitted to hospital. THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

“Please disregard any information on social media. Any updates will be communicated via official school channels.”

The hoax comes at a time when the Foreign Office has warned Brits to only travel to some parts of Italy if necessary.

Italian authorities said 322 people have been infected by the coronavirus and confirmed 11 people have died from it.

Several schools in the UK have told teachers and pupils to stay at home after returning from ski trips to northern Italy, where several towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions remain in lockdown.

Health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed 7,132 people in the UK have been tested for Covid-19 since the first cases were reported in China in the New Year, with 13 of those testing positive.

Of those 13, eight have since been discharged from hospital.