ZAGREB, February 19, 2020 – Reporting by Croatian media on the novel coronavirus to date has been mainly fair and helped raise the general public’s awareness about this disease that was first detected in China, however, there have been some cases of causing unnecessary panic by certain reports.
The Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) on Tuesday organised a panel discussion on the topic “Information or Panic” regarding the media coverage of the outbreak of this contagious disease in the world.
Participants in the panel discussion agreed that in Croatia, where there have been no coronavirus-related death cases, reporting has been rather correct and balanced.
However, although we have provided media with accurate information, there have been some cases of causing irrational fear by some reports, said the head of the Dr. Fran Mihaljević clinic, Alemka Markotić.
In this context she criticised dissemination of opinions of like-mined people on some panic-prone social networks.
She says that it is understandable that the novel virus with the official name Covid-19, that was recently detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, could give rise to unease and anxiety. On the other hand, she underscored the fact that only 47 patients to date have been diagnosed in Europe, and in Croatia there have been no cases of this disease.
Markotić admitted that the death rate from this virus was higher than the death rate from influenza, but she also points out the fact that this is in no way an incurable disease.
To date in Croatia 17 people have been tested for this virus, as they had certain symptoms such as a high body temperature and were in contact with the Chinese, and all the tests have been negative, Markotić said.
Some of the doctors who took part in the debate pointed out the fact that media outlets should also write about positive things, such as the number of patients who have recovered from the disease.
Thus, it has been underscored that over 12,000 patients in the world have been successfully treated and have recovered.
Krunoslav Čapak, head of the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ), said that media failed to report the fact that Croatia had been the first European country to introduce active medical monitoring of returnees from regions hit by the disease.
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