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As the world grapples with the burgeoning spread of the new coronavirus, a Halifax historian says there is much to be learned from the way societies have dealt with previous pandemics, including bubonic plague and SARS.

Jonathan Roberts says in many ways, history is repeating itself with COVID-19.

Roberts is head of the Department of History at Mount St. Vincent University, where he teaches a course called "Plagues and Peoples."

In an interview with CTV News he says “there is a tendency to deny…that the disease has arrived and then, shortly after that, a panic to contain the disease.”

And that, he says, is often followed by blaming, scapegoating and, especially in the social media age, conspiracy theories.

During the interview, Roberts also debunks some of those conspiracy theories and comments on government response to the epidemic. Watch it back here.