Fri, May 02, 2003 - Page 2 News List

GIO official criticizes media coverage of SARS

STAFF WRITER

According to a report in a local Chinese-language newspaper, an official from the Government Information Office (GIO) said on Wednesday that the public is reacting strongly to TV coverage of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

According to the report, the official said the GIO has received a lot of phone calls complaining about the media's coverage of SARS.

The official said calls included complaints about the 24-hour bombardment with SARS-related news, daily reports of SARS-related deaths, shocking headlines that inspired panic and the spotlighting of protests and complaints from quarantined patients and hospital staff.

The official said the GIO has asked non-governmental organizations to call for self-restraint among the media.

The official also said that among the print media, Liberty Times (the Taipei Times is part of the Liberty Times Group) has handled the outbreak the best, giving readers an understanding of the seriousness of SARS, while also explaining preventive measures and interviewing medical staff and voluntary workers.

In related news, Department of Health Deputy Director-General Lee Lung-teng (李龍騰) has complained about reporting on the SARS situation in Chung Hsing Hospital.

Lee said that such rumor-mongering had created a panic and that "this is not right."

Lee said there has been no transmission of SARS in the hospital and that all cases there were referrals from other hospitals.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun has ordered the GIO to monitor exaggerated or false SARS-related reports, clarify any false reports and demand that corrections are made in order to calm the public.

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