By Andria Borba

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Leaders in San Francisco’s Chinatown on Tuesday launched a public relations offensive to deal with local fears over the coronavirus.

In front of AA Bakery on Stockton Street, there was a show of support from the Chinese Merchants Association.

“We are safe and we are healthy. Don’t worry about whatever the rumors say. Chinatown is safe,” said Edward Siu of the Chinese Merchants Association.

Typically, the bakery has a lineup the out the door. But someone posted a rumor on the social app WeChat that someone at the store had coronavirus.

“Somebody told me yesterday, ‘Wow, what’s going on Henry?'” explained AA Bakery owner Henry Chang.

By the estimation of some merchants, foot traffic on the streets of Chinatown is down by 50 percent.

The presence of coronavirus in San Francisco is one of many rumors getting shot down by the Department of Public Health in advance of this weekend’s big Chinese New Year parade.

“There are no cases in San Francisco. The risk is very low and we’re not asking people to make changes like canceling events,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon with SFDPH.

Aragon said there is reason to be concerned by coronavirus with the regular winter flu.

“We don’t know a lot about the virus. There’s no treatment and there’s no vaccine and that’s why we’re concerned,” said Aragon. “We’re concerned about both of them. One of them is a known threat that we can predict every single year.”

At City College’s Chinatown campus, community leaders were getting a crash course in the fact and fiction of the novel coronavirus Tuesday afternoon. Emergency managers in San Francisco say common sense health practices are the key to staying healthy.

“Wash your hands; take normal flu season precautions to protect yourself. If you are sick, stay home,” said Mary Ellen Carroll, director of San Francisco Emergency Management.

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