After a comprehensive survey, VOA veteran analyst Matthew Baise reports that the nation’s largest publicly-funded network has attracted more than 7.8 million page views on the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in China and other countries since January 18.
According to Baise, the Voice’s coverage “has been diverse, tailored to target audiences, and highly successful.” Hundreds of VOA stories have generated tens of thousands of page views each. These accounts cover every conceivable angle: local news on the outbreak, analysis of how the disease might affect Xi Jinping’s leadership, and how China’s censorship likely made the outbreak worse. The reporting also sought to correct rumors spread on social media in the PRC.
VOA has produced over 800 TV videos on COVID-19 (the coronavirus) that are on YouTube. Those videos, according to Baise, have generated more than 190,000 viewer responses. VOA Facebook posts about the virus epidemic have generated over 1.8 million views, and via Instagram, 850,000 video views.
Reaction to the VOA reports has been particularly vivid. Among those commenting: Ai Wei Wei, the internationally known Chinese artist and activist…Yusuf Abramjee, a South African journalist…Teng Biao, human right activist in China…Andre Gallindo, Brazilian journalist and author…journalist Morely Robertson of Japan and Natasha Fatah of Canada.
VOA correspondent Lisa Schlein reported from Geneva that the World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraged by the apparent recent decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in China, but warns against complacency. According to WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, there is still time to stop the deadly disease from spreading widely around the world. In his words: “WHO is doing everything we can to seize that window of opportunity, and we urge the international community to do the same. As I’ve said before, let us not squander that opportunity.”
Among other U. S. – funded international broadcasters in addition to VOA, there are vivid reports about prevention efforts. Radio Free Asia quotes Agence France Press as reporting that the Wuhang Funeral Home in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, recently advertised for 20 new staff members to man four-hour night shifts. Their job: to collect the corpses of deceased COVID-19 victims from their homes.
The ad, RFA reported, emerged as the number of coronavirus deaths rose to 1,318 in Hubei, out of a total of 1, 384 worldwide. “But there are indications,” RFA said, “that the true number of deaths in Wuhan, a city under quarantine, may be far higher than the reported numbers indicate.”
From Zaisan, Khazkstan, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that authorities in the region have agreed to move a coronavirus quarantine center from a village bordering China to the regional capital. In Saryterek, Khazakstan, protesters rushed into a local hospital where a quarantine center for people arriving from China had been set up. The protesting citizens removed beds from the center.
The regional governor met with protesters to assure them that there were no patients in the center yet, and that he needed three days to process their demands. He assured them that the quarantine facility will be gradually moved to a regional capital city, Oskemen, and to other locations in Khazakstan. According to RFE/RL, more than 74,000 people have been infected with coronavirus in China and hundreds more in nearly 30 countries.
Agence France Press reported from Washington that the United States on February 20 promised to support aid work in North Korea to combat the disease. It quoted State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus as saying the U.S. is “deeply concerned” about the vulnerability of North Korea to the spread of COVID-19. She said the U.S. fully supports the efforts of assistance organizations to contain the spread of the virus in that country. Pyongyang has banned all foreign tour groups, which come largely from China, from visiting North Korea.
Columnist Michael Gerson summarized a glimpse of victory against the coronavirus. He quoted Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as saying: “We may find that the virus is highly transmissible but less lethal than we thought at the beginning…and the outbreaks, as with the flu, could be seasonable. I would not be surprised if that happened.”
Gerson concluded: “But there is also hurried, promising work being done on a coronavirus vaccine. And so the endless race continues between human ingenuity and the pathogens that regularly emerge to threaten us.”
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More