Rumours are spreading across BC in wake of coronavirus case

Beware virus rumours

Health authorities are warning of the spread of misinformation as the deadly coronavirus spreads.

The first confirmed case of the virus was announced Tuesday – but there has also been unconfirmed talk on social media about infections in New Westminster, Richmond, Burnaby and more, CTV News reports.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who also fought against Toronto's SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, says unverified rumours are more harmful than anything.

"These rumours can lead to discrimination, inappropriate discrimination against people," says Henry. "And I think we need to take all those rumours with a grain of salt and recognize that they are just that – rumours."

Health officials are the best source of truthful information despite the growing distrust in public institutions on social media.

"We are very much open here," says Henry. "We will tell you, as we have today, immediately if we know that somebody is positive for this coronavirus. We are assessing a variety of people on an ongoing basis every day in this province, and that is expected to last for the next few weeks."

A popular rumour about the coronavirus is that it is spreadable in people who are not yet showing symptoms. Henry says that health officials have not found any evidence suggesting asymptomatic shedding is occurring.

"That's reassuring to us, and that's certainly in line with other coronavirus infections that we've seen in the past like SARS," says Henry.

Henry, the man with B.C.'s first case is not in hospital, but is in isolation in his own home after returning to Vancouver from Wuhan, China.

More information is available here. 

– with files from CTV News Vancouver 

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