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Government should provide special insurance cover to Media persons amid COVID-19

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Image Courtesy: Associated Press

More than fifty media persons from Mumbai have tested positive for coronavirus, most of them are from the electronic media, have tested positive for coronavirus after they underwent tests at a special camp organized in Mumbai last week.

Mumbai Press Club, President Gurbir Singh wrote to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray stating that, As Mumbai City locked down to face the challenge of the Coronavirus, these field journalists even today continue to stand by their duty, filing their reports, taking photographs and recording videos in the most hazardous locations. Most media houses have shut their offices and have not provided any protective gear, or special insurance to these frontline personnel. However, they continue to demand reports and visuals and expect the journalists to move around the city risking life and limb. In these circumstances, the Mumbai Press Club had taken some initiative to provide some logistical support as well as accident insurance, etc but that is not enough.

In the letter he further requested that “some immediate steps to safeguard our lives and profession should be taken, such as ensure that all media companies immediately provide proper transport, safety equipment and sanitized space to work. Where it is not possible for the media companies to provide the above, the state government should ensure necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitized space to those venturing in the field. To provide immediate testing facilities for all journalists who are suspecting symptoms, or who have been in proximity of colleagues who have tested positive. There should be no time lost in this, and the testing location must be a captive facility without crowding and only for journalists. The state government has been providing special insurance cover for all emergency and essential category of workers who are tackling the coronavirus pandemic for the sum of Rs 50 lakh. Since journalists are performing an ‘essential service’, it is requested that the category of working journalists be brought under the same umbrella with cover of Rs 50 lakh and provided the protection of an essential worker.

TV Journalists Association President Vinod Jagdale confirmed to media that while the number of test reports received so far is not available, there are many have tested positive so far and the figures are likely to go up.

An official in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that most are said to be asymptomatic cases and all have been sent to home quarantine for now while others” test results are awaited.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar told AV that, “I am very much saddened to so many electronic media journalists have tasted COVID positive, particularly camera persons, have been found Covid-19 positive in Mumbai. Every journalist should take proper care,”.

The minister said an advisory was being issued to all newspaper and media establishments to ensure that adequate care and precautions were taken.

On the instructions of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, BMC was directed to conduct the special screening camp for media persons. 171 media-persons including reporters and camera persons were screened on April 16-17 near the Mumbai Press Club, the reports of which have started coming. All the media persons found infected with coronavirus will be kept in isolation and a process was underway to find out suitable places to the purpose. Efforts were also on to trace their high and low risk contacts.

The media persons – who mostly perform field duties – were also given tips to ensure their personal safety in public places, wearing masks, using sanitizers, etc. in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mumbai has become eye opener for other states, Delhi CM also to arrange mass COVID-19 test for media persons in Delhi on the lines of the one carried out in Mumbai. Even Punjab government has already arranged camps for media person’s COVID test.


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