ISLAMABAD: Three media employees, including two at Radio Pakistan and one journalist, succumbed to the deadly coronavirus, reports published Thursday said.
Radio Pakistan senior broadcast engineer Muhammad Ashfaq and Urdu newscaster Huma Zafar died of the virus, the publication said in its report.
“Muhammad Ashfaq was a regular employee of Radio Pakistan and known for his competence and dedication to technical work. He was very humble and friendly personality,” it wrote.
“Huma Zafar was a contractual newsreader and had been reading national bulletins in CNO PBC for the last two decades. She was well educated lady and did her Phd in Psychology from abroad.
“She was also attached with Waqar un Nisa Girls College Rawalpindi as a senior faculty member,” it added.
Separately, 92 News journalist Fakhruddin Syed also succumbed to the deadly coronavirus earlier today in Peshawar’s Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC), the facility’s director confirmed, adding that he had been under treatment there after his health deteriorated.
HMC spokesperson Toueed Zulfiqar told Dawn that Syed’s “health condition improved” after being treated with plasma from recovered patients.
‘Govt stands with journalists’
The journalist had been associated with multiple news media outlets and left behind a widow and two daughters.
In this regard, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister’s adviser, Ajmal Wazir, said Syed “fell victim to coronavirus himself while fighting on the front line to raise awareness”.
“May God grant Fakhruddin Syed a high position in the paradise and give patience to his family,” Wazir wrote on Twitter. “The government stands with the journalists and will not leave them alone in these trying times.”
The KP adviser said the provincial government would give a Rs1-million compensation to the late journalist’s family.
Information minister expresses sorrow
Information and Broadcasting Minister Senator Shibli Faraz expressed deep grief and sorrow over the deaths of Syed, Zafar, and Ashfaq.
Faraz said the media — along with doctors, nurses, and medical staff — was also playing a leading role in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
He saluted the proud heroes of the nation who were martyred while performing their duty of service to the nation. He also prayed for them to rest in eternal peace and for their families to have courage to bear their loss with fortitude.
Information Secretary Akber Hussain Durrani, Director-General Radio Pakistan Ambreen Jan, and all top officials and employees of the national broadcaster also offered condolences over the sad demise of both the PBC professionals and sympathised with the bereaved families.
Meanwhile, Director-General PBC during a meeting directed concerned officers to strictly follow the SOPs in all the sections to check spread of coronavirus, Radio Pakistan added.
Over 150 journalists contracted virus
According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), three media persons have already died of the novel coronavirus and more than 150 others have contracted the deadly infection.
The PFUJ said photojournalists were at the highest risk from coronavirus.
Geo News’ senior columnist Mazhar Abbas said earlier this month that 24 journalists, including three bureau chiefs, had contracted the infection in Quetta alone.
The latest development brings the total death toll of journalists who succumbed to the virus to six.
—Additional input from APP