Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Wednesday that the government planned to provide kits of protective gear to journalists visiting quarantine centres and intensive care units (ICUs) to report on the Covid-19 pandemic.
She made these remarks while addressing a video conference of provincial information ministers in Islamabad. She said journalists were playing a front-line role in the fight against coronavirus and steps were being taken to ensure their safety and health.
Awan added that the government would soon launch a "Care for Media" mobile app which would provide information to journalists if someone from the community tested positive for Covid-19 and help them with treatment.
Urging media owners to take the press clubs on board, she said hawkers had been most affected by the lockdown as newspaper distribution had been disrupted, adding that they (hawkers) would also be included in the government's Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme.
Awan also called for the clearance of dues owed to media before the end of the current fiscal year.
'Give recovered people airtime'
SAPM Awan urged the media to give airtime to people who have recovered from Covid-19 as this would dispel people's panic and fear about the pandemic. She added that this would also reduce the discrimination that these patients were facing from society.
Stressing the need to share positive news [about recoveries], she said: "Hearing negativity all day, constantly seeing numbers increasing, can have a negative impact on people's mental health."
She also urged the nation to not treat Covid-19 patients as "third-class citizens" and added that the prime minister also expressed concern about it in Tuesday's cabinet meeting.
"By giving airtime to recovered patients, we can reduce the stigma against them," she said.
Awan also advised the information ministers to share truthful information with the media, adding that it was their job to inform the people and reduce their fear and panic.
She added that "the prime minister said in the cabinet meeting yesterday that hiding facts is akin to causing harm to the country".
"If we hide ground realities, this virus will flourish," she said, adding that all information received by the provinces should be shared.
'Rename Corona Tigers Force', urges Sindh minister
During the meeting, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah requested the government to change the name of the Corona Tigers Force to something neutral.
At the same time, Shah assured that the Sindh government would cooperate with the federal government in every way and follow any advisory issued by the prime minister.
Awan, in response, said that the "cause was more important than the name" and that the Sindh chief minister could discuss this with the prime minister during the National Coordination Committee meeting. Both Shah and Awan agreed that the aim was to overcome the coronavirus health crisis.