Dhaka, May 12: In the wake of unprecedented scale of the COVID-19 pandemic, Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud on Tuesday urged the media owners to provide sufficient health protective equipment to journalists as they are performing their professional duties during Coronavirus crisis.“The journalists are the front fighters in the fight against Coronavirus . . . my humble request to all media owners is to provide sufficient health protective and safety equipment to them before sending them to works,” he said.
The minister made the call while inaugurating the distribution of health protective equipment among the journalists at Jatiya Press Club (JPC) here.
Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) organized the function to distribute the health protective equipment among the members of the organization.
Later, talking to journalists in front of JPC, Hasan criticised BNP leaders for their repeated comments on Coronavirus situation in the country and said, “My apprehension is that BNP may go to the extent of saying that the government is liable for the Coronavirus outbreak. Their (BNP) speeches sound like incoherent talks.”
Highlighting the global situation of COVID-19, he said the whole mankind is facing a mega challenge now due to the global pandemic.
“The government is adopting different steps in combating the pandemic and the present corona situation in Bangladesh is much better than other countries even Europe, the USA, India and Pakistan. And the government is taking preparations for facing any situation if the prevailing situation would deteriorate in future,” he added. “Actually their (BNP) main motive is to impede the good works of the government and they are busy with photo sessions,” said Hasan, also Awami League Joint General Secretary.
In the programme, the minister said the whole mankind across the globe is fighting against an invisible power. There is no prior preparedness to combat against such power like Coronavirus as the people were busy fighting among themselves, he added.
He said the doctors, nurses, journalists, police, army and law enforcers and others are the front fighters in the war against Coronavirus and “I congratulated all of them who are working to prevent transmission of coronavirus.”
He said it is their (media owners) duty to provide health protective equipment to their journalists. “Today I would like to request all media owners to provide adequate health protective equipment to journalists,” he added.
The minister also urged the media owners not to terminate any journalist and worker and pay their salaries and arrears amid coronavirus pandemic.
“I humbly request the owners of all media outlets not to terminate any of their employees amid the pandemic and pay salaries and arrears to their staff before the Eid-ul-Fitr,” he added.
He said the government has taken various steps so that media owners can pay salaries and arrears to journalists and employees.
About a demand of DUJ leaders, Hasan said every journalist can do his or her Coronavirus test at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) after showing official ID card.
He said the BSMMU authority is doing tests of the journalists on priority basis. “Besides, I also talked with the health secretary so that any affected journalist (COVID-19 positive) can get treatment on priority basis at a dedicated hospital,” he added.
The AL joint general secretary prayed for the eternal peace of three journalists who died of COVID-19 and coronavirus-like symptoms, and sought early recovery of journalists infected with coronavirus.
Hasan also declared to give 100 PPEs to DUJ from his own fund.
Chaired by DUJ President Kuddus Afrad and moderated by its General Secretary Sazzad Alam Khan Tapu, the function was addressed, among others, by Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) President Molla Jalal, Secretary General Saban Mahmud, JPC President Saiful Alam, BFUJ former president Manzurul Ahsan Bulbul, JPC senior vice president Omar Faruque and DUJ joint general secretary Khairul Alam.
Later, on behalf of the Deshbandhu Group and SASCO Group, coronavirus safety gears were handed over to the DUJ members.