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A national institute on mental health has warned the media that coverage of the mass poisoning in a residential community of Wakayama this summer has doubly hurt local people already suffering due to the crime.

Four people died and more than 60 others were sickened after eating arsenic-laced curry served at a community festival in the Sonobe district of Wakayama in July. Since then, the normally quiet residential district has been swarmed by hundreds of media reporters and photographers.

A research group at the National Center for Mental Health and Neurology sent a set of written proposals to media firms urging their correspondents to refrain from reporting in the Sonobe community during certain hours.

The Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture-based institute said the local residents have suffered secondary stress as they are kept under constant watch by the reporters, many of whom effectively stay in Sonobe around the clock.

Many of the surviving victims suffered psychologically when media photographers took shots of them even as they received medical treatment and health checkups, the institute said in its proposals.

In order to help the community regain a sense of normality, the press should set certain hours of the day during which they will refrain from reporting in the area, and also stop interviewing or taking photos of the poisoning victims at hospitals and other public facilities, it added.

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