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Coronavirus Hoax: Fake Letter Claims Outbreak In South Bay Area

CARSON (CBSLA) — Officials Thursday were warning the public about a fake letter being shared on social media and through email claiming a "possible coronavirus outbreak" in Carson.

The letter, purporting to be from a Los Angeles County Department of Public Health official, contained false information and was determined to be a hoax, the sheriff's department said.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Carson station became aware of the letter and immediately contacted public health officials who confirmed it was fake.

County Supervisor Janice Hahn tweeted Thursday that there was no current threat to the public from novel coronavirus in the county.

"There is no immediate threat to the general public, no special precautions are required, and people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness," a statement from the sheriff's department said.

RELATED: USC Debunks Social Media Claim That Student Contracted Coronavirus

The statement said that in the event of an outbreak, information would be shared through official channels in the form of a press release and would be published on the health department's website and Twitter account.

The hoax came as the World Health Organization declared a global public health emergency following China's confirmation that the virus has now claimed at least 171 lives with more than 7,700 currently infected.

In the United States, there are five confirmed cases — one from person-to-person contact in Chicago — with two in the Southland.

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