The Editors Guild of India had demanded that journalists be given priority in vaccination against COVID-19 and also urged all media organisations to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of their employees. In a statement, the Guild condoled the deaths of journalists who have died because of COVID-19 over the past year. “In April 2021 itself, more than 52 journalists died because of the virus. Further, according to the Delhi based Institute of Perception Studies, more than 100 journalists have died since the lockdown was first declared from April 1, 2020,” the Guild said in a statement. Maybe because of this or the prevalent situation at least six states decided to declare journalists as frontline workers as they have been working tirelessly through the pandemic and lockdown. Let’s look at the list of states and who are COVID frontline workers.
States that have made journalists frontline workers
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently declared journalists as Covid warriors. “Journalists have taken a risk and worked on the field all these days like other Covid warriors. I declare you Covid warriors too. Let the Chief Secretary note this down. I am still the chief minister since I have not resigned as per rules before taking oath again,” she added.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister-elect M K Stalin on Tuesday announced that journalists working amid the raging coronavirus pandemic in the state will be considered as frontline workers. “All media persons working in newspapers, visual and audio media at the risk of their lives due to rain, sun and floods will be considered as frontline employees in Tamil Nadu,” the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief announced on Twitter.
Madhya Pradesh declared media professionals accredited with the state government as frontline workers. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said journalists were risking their lives while doing their duty during this “dangerous period of Covid-19 pandemic”.
The Bihar government has decided to give the status of frontline workers to the journalists who will get Covid-19 vaccination on a priority basis. An official statement said all the journalists accredited with the Information and Public Relations Department at the state level and also non-accredited scribes authenticated by the district public relation officers, from print, electronic and web media, will be considered as frontline workers for priority inoculation.
On April 3, the Uttarakhand government had declared journalists as frontline workers and announced Covid-19 vaccination for all of them without any age restriction.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday declared working journalists of the state as frontline Covid-19 warriors. The chief minister said journalists are doing a great service to the state by providing seamless news feed and making people aware of coronavirus-related issues. Odisha has also announced an ex gratia of Rs15 lakh for the next of kin of journalists who die of Covid-19 while performing their duty.
Who are COVID frontline workers?
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, frontline workers are the personnel from state and central police organisation; armed forces; home guards and civil defence volunteers including disaster management volunteers and municipal workers (excluding HCWs), prison staff, revenue officials engaged in containment and surveillance activities etc.
How are they being protected?
“The people at the highest risk of exposure such as health care and frontline workers will receive the vaccine on priority. These personnel are also likely a source of infection of their family members. Other family members will be vaccinated according to the age-specific prioritization by the Government of India,” the MoHfW had said.