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March 23, 2020 - Updated on May 6, 2020

Three Pakistani reporters catch coronavirus

A Pakistani journalist wearing a protective facemask uses his mobile phone outside the Aga Khan University Hospital where a patient of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus has been admitted in Karachi on February 26, 2020. (Asif Hassan / AFP).
After three Pakistani TV journalists who do field reporting tested positive for Covid-19, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Pakistani media to temporarily close their bureaux for the sake of the health of their staff.

The news was broken on Twitter yesterday morning and then confirmed during the day that two journalists with News 24 HD TV and one with AbbTakk TV have tested positive. All three, whose names have not been disclosed, are based in Lahore, the capital of the eastern province of Punjab.

 

Punjab’s government has imposed a partial lockdown in the province from yesterday because the number of coronavirus cases has been growing steadily for the past few days. For Pakistan as a whole, the number of cases has gone from 22 last weekend to more than 800 now.

 

“You cannot rule out the possibility that the three journalists who have tested positive for Covid-19 caught it while reporting in the field,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “This is why we ask all of the country’s media executives and owners to put their reporters’ health first and not send large numbers of them into the field. Everything must be put in place so that they can work from home and avoid any potential source of infection.”

 

Six people have so far died of the coronavirus in Pakistan, including a doctor in a remote northern region, but observers expect a wave of more cases in the coming days.

 

Pakistan is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index.