Author: Henry

The Sun’s “Sarcastic” Comparison of COVID-19 to SARS

The Sun’s “Sarcastic” Comparison of COVID-19 to SARS

Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair responds to backlash over Sun column about COVID-19, says her only aim was to ‘promote discourse’

The controversial Sun editorial on Tuesday that compared COVID-19 cases in Toronto in recent weeks to those that killed the SARS virus in 2003 sparked a wave of criticism that has so far been silent.

A day after the Sun published a story headlined “COVID: Toronto’s ‘deadly’ coronavirus is no joke” that included a graphic that compared the current Toronto cases to those that killed SARS, Dr. Maria Vakili, the vice-chair of the Toronto Public Health, issued a strongly-worded statement.

“What they’ve been doing is taking a bad situation and turning it into dramatic news instead of a discussion about what we need to do to better protect our community,” Vakili said.

The headline also triggered a flurry of Facebook, Twitter and Facebook messenger comments and some criticism, including from Dr. Eileen de Villa, who is director of the Infectious Diseases Institute at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

In her view, such graphic comparisons – especially for a headline that is usually reserved for “dramatic” news – go too far.

“This is not, and should not be, the way that we engage with our community. We’re supposed to be talking about how each one can do his/her part,” De Villa told the Star’s editorial board on Wednesday.

De Villa said she felt compelled to respond to the Sun’s “misrepresentation of the facts.”

And while she conceded that the comparison could be seen as “sarcastic,” she was quick to add that the Sun’s headline was “not fair.”

Despite the criticism that the column generated, Vakili said that she and colleagues never expected the Sun’s coverage of the virus would be such a divisive topic.

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