Multiple post-secondary institutions across Ontario have responded to images of alerts about novel coronavirus cases on their campuses — all of which have been fake.
Images of alleged screenshots from Ryerson University’s official website, alongside photos of a sign allegedly posted on a door in a McMaster University residence building, were circulating online on Monday.
Both schools have since reported that the postings are false, and there is no cause for concern to anyone on campus.
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
Further, a picture of an ambulance and hazmat suits on Durham College campus sparked concern.
However, the college said that extra precaution was taken by first responders due to “heightened awareness,” and it has been confirmed that what they were responding to was not coronavirus.
A picture has been circulating of what appears to be a quarantine notice in residence related to a possible coronavirus infection.
There are no known cases of the coronavirus at DC. A picture has been circulating of an ambulance and hazmat suits on campus. Due to heightened awareness, an abundance of caution was taken by first responders last week. It has been confirmed that this was NOT the coronavirus.
— Durham College (@durhamcollege) January 27, 2020
While it’s confirmed that students at all three institutions have nothing to be concerned about at this time in relation to the coronavirus, the images that circulated did look realistic:
— luqman ahmed (@lqmnahmed) January 27, 2020
@McMasterU I have just found out that this was a prank by one of the students in residence. The Wuhan corona virus is not a joke as it affect many people including families of McMaster students. Please take appropriate action. pic.twitter.com/1EgHs5orTJ
— Teng Yi Huang (@huangt229) January 27, 2020
But, as one person explained in response to a post shared by Ryerson University, Internet content can be doctored. And in some cases, it’s not terribly difficult to do so.
— Keith Marshall (@NeverKieth) January 28, 2020
As of January 27, Ontario has seen one confirmed case and one presumptive case of the coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China.
The cases are a husband and wife, respectively, who recently returned from travels that included the virus’ city of origin. They are both in their mid-50s and are recovering.
The province said that there are currently 19 cases under investigation, and that they have ruled out 16 patients at this time.