QAnon Supporters, Anti-Vaxxers Spread A Hoax Bill Gates Created Coronavirus - 2020-01-23
A QAnon YouTuber named Jordan Sather warned his followers on Tuesday that the coronavirus was a "new fad disease" and claimed the release of the virus that causes it was "planned." Following Sather's heavily retweeted thread, the conspiracy theory traveled across Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
The newly discovered virus — a member of the coronavirus family that includes past outbreaks SARS and MERS — has infected more than 644 people and killed 18 since Dec. 31, 2019, according to Chinese news reports. Infected travelers have been detected in Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and Singapore. The first US case was announced on Tuesday, and five US airports have begun screening for the virus after a man in his thirties from Snohomish County, Washington, had his infection confirmed by a recently developed genetic test. (A potential second US case was announced today.) And on Thursday, Chinese officials quarantined a number of cities in close proximity to the center of the outbreak, Wuhan. Public transportation was shut down, roads were blocked, and outbound flights were suspended, leaving 20 million people effectively unable to leave on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year.