ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan presided over a video conference of provincial information ministers today to discuss prevailing situation regarding Coronavirus outbreak in the country. Speaking on this occasion, she said a comprehensive plan is being devised with the support of National Disaster Management Authority to provide safety tools to medical staff fighting Coronavirus and improve medical facilities across the country. Dr Firdous said the objective behind the conference was to make a coordinated media strategy to sensitize the people about the measures being taken to fight the pandemic and their positive outcomes, besides removing the loopholes in the strategy adopted so far.
She said for accuracy, the government had decided to make the decisions of the National Coordination Committee public. All the decisions in the NCC meetings were taken unanimously, but unfortunately a section of the media was giving them a twist. The SAPM said the Federal Government had allocated Rs 50 million for highlighting the NCC decisions through advertisements in both the print and electronic media, and the provinces could also follow suit. She stressed that the provincial governments should review implementation of the decisions, measures and challenges for containing the coronavirus. The special assistant said a WhatsApp group had been created at the ministerial level for sharing of accurate information among the provinces.
There was need to highlight the number of recovered patients from the coronavirus so that the sense of fear among the people could be removed, she added. Dr Firdous said the protection of media persons was the topmost priority of her ministry and special protective kits would be provided to those visiting sensitive areas. Three media persons in Punjab, she said, had tested positive for the coronavirus. The Press Information Department (PID) had created a corona journalist app, which would enlist the affected journalists and help them in all possible ways, she added. The SAPM said a fake news buster website had been developed by the PID so that any baseless and fake news about any province or area could be countered. Prime Minister Imran Khan, she said, had time and again renewed his pledge that the government would ensure to keep the supply chain of daily use items open. The hoarders and profiteers would be taken to task, she added.
She said a segment of media workers were facing delay in the payment of their salaries. The issue would be resolved on war footing as the prime minister had issued directives to Adviser on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh to look into the matter and facilitate the media workers through an emergency relief package. She asked the provincial information ministers to take steps for the payment of outstanding dues, if any in their respective provinces, to the media houses. The SAPM said in the next video conference of information ministers on Wednesday, journalists associations would be invited to get their input for ensuring protection of the field staff of the media.