Coronavirus panic hits Toronto schools after outbreak allegations

With the second presumptive confirmed case of novel coronavirus in Toronto (and the first B.C. case confirmed on Tuesday), many GTA schools are not only taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, but also to stop false rumours.

Ryerson University has refuted allegations of coronavirus on campus after a screenshot of a security alert circulated on social media suggesting that two of their students have contracted the virus.

“Two students attending Ryerson University have been admitted into Toronto General Hospital and have been tested positive for Coronavirus,”  the screenshot claimed. It stated that the students were on campus between Jan. 6 and Jan. 23, and that Ryerson is currently investigating all locations the students have visited.



Ryerson quickly responded that the alert was fake on Jan. 27 via Twitter. 

“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,” the university tweeted.



In a follow-up tweet, Ryerson confirmed that there remain no cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) at the university, but reminded people to take proper precautions to reduce their exposure to, and transmission, of illnesses.



“As always, if you are sick, you should avoid close contact with others and stay home,” the school wrote in a statement on their website.  “In addition, we encourage you to contact your healthcare practitioner or primary physician as soon as possible and report your symptoms to them for evaluation.”

On Monday, the Toronto District School Board issued a statement to parents in response to various petitions, some with over 9,000 signatures. Certain petitions are urging the board to allow students to wear safety equipment, such as respirator masks during school; while others are requesting the board ask students to “report to the school and classroom teacher” if they have traveled back from China, and that those students stay isolated for a “minimum of 17 days.”

Some petitions are even requesting that the board cancel all TDSB schools for two weeks.



In their statement, the board responded that they are “closely monitoring” the current situation with regards to the novel coronavirus.

“We understand that many of our families have questions and concerns. Public health officials continue to advise that the risk to the public remains low,” the statement read. “As a result, the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health and Toronto Public Health are not advising schools to take any additional precautions, including the wearing of medical masks or denying entry to students, at this time.”

As of publication date, the death toll from the novel coronavirus stands at 106, with approximately 4,500 infections.

There’s no cure for the virus, and wearing a surgical mask likely won’t stop one from getting infected — but there are simple safety precautions you can take.

Check out the following links for more up-to-date information on outbreak updates in the GTA and across the globe: visit Toronto Public Health or Health Canada.