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Mesa school district debunks hoax about coronavirus infecting students

Students wear masks to avoid the contact of coronavirus at a high school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. China on Tuesday reported 25 more deaths from a new viral disease, as the U.S. government prepared to fly Americans out of the city at the center of the outbreak. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHOENIX – Mesa Public Schools, the state’s largest school district, shot down a hoax spreading on social media about the coronavirus outbreak reaching its students.

“Please be assured there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Mesa Public Schools,” the district said Tuesday in a message to families and on social media.

According to the post, screenshots of an apparent news report about the potentially deadly virus being diagnosed in Mesa students have been circulating.

The screenshots were created with an online “breaking news” generator, said the district, which warned against sharing unverified news.

“In one of the screenshots, the website’s watermark is visible. Please remember spreading unfounded rumors compromises the safety of our community,” the message said.

The district said it would immediately notify families if a student contracted the highly contagious virus, which has one confirmed case in Arizona.

The patient is a member of the Arizona State University community who recently visited China and lives off-campus in Tempe. The person, who wasn’t seriously ill and is recovering at home, is being monitored by state health officials.

The coronavirus has been confirmed in more than 4,500 people in China, with more than 100 fatalities as of Tuesday. It can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia.

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