The Sri Lanka Chapter of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) notes with concern the worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic within Sri Lanka even as the Government and especially the health personnel work hard to control this deadly contagion and drawn attention to the role of news media professionals in their reportage of the pandemic.

SAFMA said that given the nature of this rapidly spreading disease, communications and information dissemination play a critical role and news media professionals today play an important role only just behind those brave medical ‘first responders’ in countering the pandemic.

"News media professionals, therefore, run huge health risks, physical and mental, as they work to keep the public as well as the authorities informed about the pandemic. It is through the news media that the authorities are able to promote social hygiene measures and also inform the public about urgent administrative actions such as curfews and distribution of supplies. It is the news media industry that keeps public morale high with reportage of progress and success in vaccines and other counter measures," SALMA saod in a statement.

The Association added that given the frontline role in this pandemic, news media professionals urgently need physical protection in the form of readily available PPE and also immediate and constant access to COVID-19 testing.

Furthermore, news media employers should provide greater medical insurance coverage to enable journalists carry out their pandemic reportage with more confidence and vigour.

SAFMA-SL appealed to the Media Ministry and the Department of Government Information to look into this urgent matter of journalists’ health protection and coordinate with the health authorities, media employers and media workers’ unions to ensure rapid action in this regard.