Mesa Public Schools and Highland High School are warning about a coronavirus hoax

Mesa Public Schools and Highland High School are warning about a coronavirus hoax

MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- The Mesa Public School District and Highland High School in Gilbert are warning families about "coronavirus hoaxes" circulating through the communities.

On Tuesday, the Mesa Public School District posted on its Facebook page: "A screenshot, appearing to come from an undisclosed news station, alleges that students at some of our schools have been diagnosed with the virus."

The district says that is not true, and that there are NO confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Mesa Public School system. If that should change, the post reads, families will be notified by the district or the school, not by a third-party source. "It remains safe to attend school and on-campus events," states the district.

According to the district letter sent out to families, the screenshots were created using a fake “breaking news” generator that can be found online. In one of the screenshots, the website’s watermark is visible. "Please remember spreading unfounded rumors compromises the safety of our community," reads the statement.

Meantime, Highland High School in Gilbert is also warning about a coronavirus hoax. A letter from the Highland High School principal reads: "It was reported to our staff today that an unknown source has created a fake image that depicts Highland High and breaking news regarding coronavirus. Please be reassured that is a hoax, and not accurate information. At Highland High, we take the safety and health of our students and staff very seriously.  Our GPS Health Services Department, administrators, teachers, and staff all take precautions within the classroom and school to maintain a healthy learning environment for our students."

[RELATED: Coronavirus case confirmed in Maricopa County]

This weekend, a case of the coronavirus was confirmed in Maricopa County. According to the Department of Health Services, the confirmed case is in a person who recently returned from travel to Wuhan, China. The patient is a member of the Arizona State University community but does not live in university housing.

State health officials said the person is not severely ill and is currently being kept in isolation to keep the virus from spreading. Health officials are currently investigating to identify any persons that may have been exposed while the person was infected. Anyone who may have had contact, or is identified as having been exposed, will be contacted directly, officials said.

[RELATED: ASU bans travel to China following coronavirus outbreak]

On Tuesday, Arizona State University President Michael Crow announced a moratorium on all travel to China by ASU students, faculty and staff. It takes effect immediately and will remain in place until the coronavirus outbreak is contained. Crow made the announcement on his Twitter page.

Some ASU students have started an online petition to cancel university classes until campus classrooms can be properly disinfected. The petition has more than 20,000 signatures so far. ASU says classes will not be canceled and it is following the CDC's guidelines to keep everyone safe from the coronavirus.

[RELATED: Mesa family visiting Wuhan speaks out about coronavirus outbreak]

“While the immediate risk of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to the general public is believed to be low at this time, ADHS and our county public health partners will continue to actively monitor for the disease,” said Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director. “There are simple daily precautions that everyone should always take to prevent the spread of diseases.”

[RELATED: Less common strains of coronavirus are common in Phoenix]

The virus spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Officials say symptoms can appear within two to 14 days after exposure and consist of fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Currently, no commercial testing is available and there is no vaccine. 

A spokeswoman for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport says they are aware of the confirmed coronavirus case in Maricopa County. "Public Health officials have not requested any specific changes to Phoenix Sky Harbor’s standard health and safety protocols related to it," the spokeswoman said, pointing out that there are no direct flights from China coming into Phoenix. She went on to explain the protocol that's in place. "If a patient arrives in Phoenix with symptoms of the coronavirus, the Phoenix Fire Department would provide the initial response and then it would contact public health officials. The Airport would also work with health officials as needed."

[RELATED: Video game company urges players to avoid Plague Inc. game for information on coronavirus]

A representative from the Arizona Department of Health Service said several coronavirus samples have been sent to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. "The samples we send to CDC for testing are only for those individuals who meet the case definition or have direct contact with a confirmed case," said Chris Minnick of AZDHS.

[MORE: CDC on coronavirus]

Health experts advise us about some of the best ways to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

-Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

-Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

-Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

-Stay home when you are sick.

-Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash.

-Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects/surfaces.

For additional information, please visit the Maricopa County Public Health website.

More stories:

-Tempe CVS runs out of masks after Valley person gets coronavirus]

-University of Arizona cancels Chinese New Year event

-Travel warnings worry some Sky Harbor travelers as the coronavirus spreads]

-China counts 106 virus deaths as US, others move to evacuate]


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