Risk communication is key to easing coronavirus fears


York University emergency management expert available for comment
TORONTO, February 4, 2020 – The novel coronavirus outbreak has led to the quick spread of misinformation and rumours, creating not only a shortage of medical masks but an increase in racism.

Although the risk of death from the coronavirus is very low in Canada, such misinformation has made it highly challenging for governments and businesses to communicate the actual health risks and preventive measures without amplifying the fear of the virus, according to Professor Jack Rozdilsky, who teaches emergency management and preparedness at York University.

“The public was not especially disturbed when influenza and pneumonia killed more than 8,500 Canadians in 2018 under normal conditions. But now, even with only four cases and no deaths in Canada, people are very worried about the coronavirus. That’s why risk communications play a key role in both containing the disease and the fear of contracting it,” said Rozdilsky.

Rozdilsky is available to comment on the following topics:

  • The ways in which communications fight the spread of the novel coronavirus
  • Tips on effective risk communications for businesses and private organizations
  • Business continuity planning for pandemics
  • Public health crises and emergency management

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Media Contact: Gloria Suhasini, York University Media Relations, 647-463-4354, suhasini@yorku.ca