THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) has raised the demand for including media persons among 'frontline warriors' in the fight against COVID-19. Such a title would mean journalists will also get priority for COVID-19 vaccination and insurance benefits currently accorded to doctors and other health workers.
The demand became stronger after the death of 41-year-old Vipin Chand, a visual media journalist in Kochi, due to Covid-19 on Sunday.
While as many as 12 states have included media persons in the 'frontline COVID warriors' category, Kerala government has so far been reluctant to do so. "We have given a petition to both the chief minister and the health minister, seeking to consider media persons as COVID warriors. However, despite our efforts, media persons are still being excluded," said KUWJ president Reji KP.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State V Muraleedharan backed the journalists’ demand and asked the state government to immediately consider the demand of media persons.
"Proper exchange of news is important in the fight against COVID, and hence the importance of journalism. Our current fight against the pandemic is similar to a war. Media persons are risking their lives in this war and they need to be given protection. I urge the government not to make any lapses in this," he said.
Earlier, the Press Council of India made a similar recommendation to the Centre and state governments after the number of journalists who died of COVID increased in the second wave. Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Delhi, Punjab, West Bengal, Goa and Manipur governments have already declared media persons as Covid warriors.