A social media post circulating on Instagram claiming two students at Ryerson University contracted coronavirus has been debunked. The post, which featured an alleged screenshot of a notice titled “Virus Outbreak,” was called “fake” by university officials within hours of being posted on Monday, January 27. However, it had already been up long enough to be widely shared online and for it to cause panic.

The viral image, which was widely shared on social media on Monday, appeared to show a computer screen on Ryerson’s Community Safety and Security page.

Although the photo is slightly cut off, it appears to suggest two students reportedly registered at the school had been admitted to Toronto General Hospital and tested positive for coronavirus.

However, the image of the alleged "coronavirus incident" was soon scrubbed from social media. Ryerson told Narcity that the post circulating online was “fake.”

The photo also appeared to claim that the students were on campus between January 6 and January 23. It suggested that the “incident” was reported on January 23. It also alleged that the school was investigating all the locations the students had supposedly visited.

Once notified of the post, the university carried out an internal investigation and found that there had not been an update on the Ryerson website. They suggested that the viral image on Instagram was fake.

Student newspaper The Eyeopener first reported the posting was fake and shared an update on Twitter.

"Ryerson University is aware that there are fake social media posts alleging that Ryerson students have been admitted to hospital with the coronavirus today," Ryerson said to Narcity on Monday.

Ryerson representatives continued, "There are no cases of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) at Ryerson University."

The school provided a full update on Tuesday which can be found here.

However, by the time the response from the school was issued, news of the potential virus on campus had already been spread amongst the student population. 

Some students took to Twitter to express their frustrations with the “fake alert” news at Ryerson. 

"No one at Ryerson has the corona virus but the fact that everyone just accepted a screenshot of a security incident as proof even though they could have just checked their email and recognized that it was fake is just so crazy to me," reads one tweet.

The photo spread shortly after the first case of new coronavirus in Toronto was confirmed.

Canada also just beefed up its travel alert to level three for China, recommending that the area of Wuhan be avoided.

As of Wednesday afternoon in Ontario, two cases of novel coronavirus have been found in Toronto. Provincial public health personnel are investigating 23 others for possible infection, according to CP24.

*This article has been updated.

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