More scribes dying of Covid-19 in south Asia

 [Nava Thakuria]

GENEVA/GUWAHATI, 17 Apr: As more journalists are falling prey to Covid-19 in south Asian nations (India and Bangladesh), the Switzerland-based media rights and safety body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) urged for preparedness among media persons as they have to continue playing the role of corona warriors after the doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, etc.

Expressing apprehension that the situation may deteriorate for the journalists on the ground due to the Corona pandemic, PEC general secretary Blaise Lempen advocated adequate compensations for the victim families and early vaccinations to media workers of all ages, so that they can perform their duties without endangering precious lives.

Even after the Indian government launched a massive Corona vaccination programme covering nearly 120 million people till now against the backdrop of around 2 million reported infections every day across the billion plus nation, at least three senior journalists succumbed to Covid-19 complications within a week.

Lucknow-based journalist Ankit Shukla (35), who worked for the daily Jagran, died of Corona-aggravated ailments on 16 April. The 66th victim among Indian scribes, Shukla had tested positive for the infection a few days back and was admitted in RM Lohia hospital. Later, he was shifted to a specially-monitored Corona unit, where Shukla died.

A day back, Odisha’s Patnagarh-based journalist Jatish Khamari (46) succumbed to Corona complications at a Bhubaneswar-based hospital.

Khamari was associated with the daily Sambad and had tested positive for the virus infection some days back. Initially, he was admitted in a rural hospital but was later shifted to Bhubaneswar, where he breathed his last on the night of 15 April.

Earlier, Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh)-based senior cartoonist Pradeep Arya (58) passed away with Corona aggravated ailments on 12 April.

Associated with Hindi newspapers like Deshbandhu, Nababharat, Lokswar, etc, Arya had tested positive for the virus infection a few days back. He remained in home isolation for sometime, but was soon admitted in a local hospital.

Meanwhile, the PEC team reported that more than a thousand journalists died of Corona complications in 74 countries since its outbreak in March 2020, projecting the casualty of two scribes per day.

It added that March 2021 was a deadly month with 93 journalists deceased from the coronavirus, making a casualty of three per day. Expressing concern over the dropping of victim’s ages as nearly half of journalists dying from the infection in March remained between the ages of 40 and 60, the PEC team admitted that the total number of media victims is certainly higher.