Ryerson University responds to allegations of coronavirus outbreak on campus
Many students at Toronto's Ryerson University are fearing the worst as images that seem to confirm multiple cases of coronovirus at the school are circulating on social media.
Screengrabs of what appears to be a Ryerson Community Safety and Security alert about an outbreak of the illness on campus have been making their rounds on Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook.
"2 students attending Ryerson university have been admitted into Toronto General Hospital and have been tested positive for Coronavirus," the photo of the webpage reads, going on to say the students were on campus two days per week from January 6 to January 23, and that the university is "investigating all locations the students have been to."
News of the rumoured cases spread like, well, a virus, panicking many students and Toronto residents in general.
2 people at Ryerson have coronavirus and have been taken to the hospital. F U C K— MostHated (@morezaqassem) January 27, 2020
Fortunately, some were quick to point out the grammatical and capitalization errors in the alleged post, calling its veracity into question.
Ryerson confirmed yesterday evening that the screengrabs were indeed fake, and that there are currently no known cases of the novel virus at the institution. In a tweet, the university linked to its actual Safety and Security page, which has no such posts.
Ryerson University is aware that there are fake social media posts alleging that students have been admitted to hospital with the coronavirus today. There are no cases of coronavirus at Ryerson. For information on Security Alerts at Ryerson, please visit https://t.co/HDzMzq2nDh.— Ryerson University (@RyersonU) January 27, 2020
The images are suspected to have been created using the "inspect element" browser feature that allows users to temporarily edit the HTML source code of webpages.
Obviously, select individuals were looking to terrify fellow students — and they aren't the only ones. McMaster University in Hamilton and Durham College in Oshawa have also been facing false reports of coronavirus outbreaks that originated on social media.
There was also speculation that a retail employee at Markham shopping centre CF Markville may have been infected, which the mall refuted in a written statement.
My friend sent me a “photo” of Ryerson’s security page saying 2 students are confirmed to have coronavirus.. go on the actual page and it’s not there. Literally can’t trust media, why would someone take the time to fake this shit and spread fear? pic.twitter.com/nDal1LdedG— shirls (@__shirleyc) January 27, 2020
Health officials continue to reassure the public that the risk to Canadians is currently low, but residents are still finding cause for alarm.
The death toll from the coronavirus in China is now at least 106, with more than 4,500 cases confirmed globally. Two people in Toronto have been confirmed to be afflicted, with 19 others in Ontario under investigation. These numbers pale in comparison to annual deaths from the average flu, which is also often caused by a type of coronavirus.
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