Chinese students at CBU cautious, but say there is misinformation about coronavirus
SYDNEY -- There haven't been any cases of coronavirus in the Maritimes, but what is spreading around is misinformation about the disease.
Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health is looking to clear the air with some international students who are concerned about what they're seeing on social media.
Michael He wouldn't normally wear a mask while shovelling snow in Sydney, but he's being extra careful after returning five days ago from his home in China's Fujian Province.
That's not close to the novel coronavirus outbreak area, and he doesn't have any symptoms, but he's staying home for a few days as a precaution.
He's just as concerned about dubious information fellow Chinese students at Cape Breton University have been receiving from social media.
"For some of students here, they are getting misleading information," He said. "And they think the virus is not controllable."
At a restaurant, another CBU student from China says she, too, is aware of others who have received misinformation online about covid-19, as it is now called, on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter.
"I believe maybe different countries, the people have different views about China and about this virus," said Crystal Li.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rob Strang says there is a lot of misinformation and "alarmist" information about coronavirus.
In an interview with CTV Anchor Steve Murphy earlier this week, Strang said it was time to clear up any misconceptions.
"I've reached out to all the universities last week, and I was just making arrangements now," Strang said. "Specific concerns brought to me at Cape Breton University, to try to get on a videoconference with them later this week."
The university is welcoming the call.
"We're very interested in making sure that our front line staff and faculty have the most up-to-date information," said Judy Kelley, CBU's manager of health services.
Strang is scheduled to speak with CBU on Thursday.
In the meantime, he says there are still no confirmed cases east of Toronto.
"There's no evidence at all of any community spread, anywhere in Canada," Strang said.
Both Crystal Li and Michael He say they are confident the disease is being controlled the best it can and the Chinese government back home is doing its best.
"We are fine," He said. "We need to take it (seriously), but we don't need to terrify everybody."