The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down. As we move forward, the pandemic continues to evolve and fortunately, the crisis made us realise the importance of professions like doctors, healthcare workers, policemen and sanitisation workers. While people have now clearly understood the value of ‘Corona Warriors’, the Odisha government on Sunday included working journalists in the category of ‘Frontline COVID Warriors’, recognising the risks they take in order to cover the pandemic.
Recognising the services that journalists are providing to the state amid the raging coronavirus pandemic, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik approved the proposal of declaring working journalists of Odisha as Frontline COVID Warriors. The Chief Minister in a statement even said, “Working journalists are doing a great service to the State by providing seamless news feed, making people aware of issues relating to COVID-19 at this very trying times and they are a great support for our war against COVID.”
Journalists on priority in Odisha:
As per the statement released by the Chief Minister’s Office, the government’s decision to include journalists in the category of ‘Frontline COVID Warriors’ is likely to benefit 6,944 working journalists of the state. These 6,944 working journalists of the state have been covered under the Gopabandhu Sambadika Swasthya Bima Yojana and will be getting a health insurance cover of ₹2 lakh each.
The Odisha government has also announced ex-gratia of ₹15 lakh for the next of kin of journalists who die of COVID-19 while performing their duty. Apart from this, the journalists after being declared as frontline workers by the state government, will now also get priority in the vaccination program in the state.
Bihar recognises journalists as ‘Frontline Workers’ for vaccination:
While Odisha government recognised journalists as COVID warriors, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday too decided to give journalists the status of frontline workers in order for them to receive COVID-19 vaccination on a priority basis.
The Chief Minister declared his decision on Twitter by saying that journalists were properly performing their duties during the pandemic by spreading awareness about the virus among the people.
PCI had also urged Centre to include journalists as ‘COVID Warriors’:
The Press Council of India (PCI) last year urged the Central government to include journalists, who died due to COVID-19, in the category of ‘COVID warriors’ like doctors and other essential health staff, and provide them with the same benefits. In the letter written to the Central government, state governments and Union Territories, PCI even requested the governments to frame and implement a group insurance scheme for journalists.