The death toll in the COVID-19 global outbreak has now passed 10,000. That’s even with the nonstop, heroic efforts of tens of thousands of physicians and nurses worldwide.
As VOA correspondent Jamie Dettmer put it: “Parisians marked dusk on the first day of their coronavirus lockdown this week by stepping out on their balconies and throwing open their windows to cheer and applaud the frontline fighting of doctors and nurses of a virulent viral enemy that has upended life around the world.
“In neighboring Italy and Spain, health workers also received peoples’ praises from balconies and front porches — not only in appreciation of their efforts but to lift the spirits of the exhausted professionals who are showing true grit. They need all the morale boosts they can get.”
Western international broadcasters, too, are working around the clock to report the impact of COVID-19. Between them, the BBC, VOA and related networks, and Germany’s Deutsche Welle reach an estimated 818 million people globally each week, via their own TV, radio, and online media. Many of those counted in rigorous surveys access them daily or several times a week — especially in times of crisis such as the global coronavirus epidemic.
Here’s a brief glimpse at what these major international networks are saying in their public service roles:
The British Broadcasting Corporation
In a richly-illustrated site of cartoon characters, the BBC leads with “Caronavirus Information: What Should I Do?” Key recommendations: “Wash your hands with soap and water for about 20 seconds, use a tissue for coughs, avoid touching your face. Even if you have no symptoms,” the site says, “you should work at home where possible and avoid social venues. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Watch for symptoms: fever and tiredness, continuous coughs or breathing difficulties. Stay at least three feet away from other people (even in your own home, if possible.
Among BBC accounts about the coronavirus
—350 billion pounds sterling have been allocated to help U.K. firms
—Britain changes course amid death toll fears
—Coronavirus: U.S. volunteers in Seattle test first vaccine
—In the U.K., schools closed for four months and people over 70 years old grounded.
The Voice of America and other U.S.-funded overseas broadcasters
—Correspondent Jeff Seldin in Washington: “Iran’s struggle to contain its coronavirus pandemic could have a ripple effect across the Middle East, with some U.S. officials suggesting it could further de-stabilize an already volatile region.
—In a report, March 17, VOA’s Michael Ripkin quoted the International Organization for Migration as saying that Afghans returning to Afghanistan from official border crossings doubled during the first week this month.
—VOA’s Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi March 17 that “India has closed the iconic Taj Mahal, one of the world’s most visited tourist sites, as it battles the spread of the coronavirus. Each day, about 20,000 Indian and foreign tourists visit the Taj Mahal, a number that usually doubles on weekends.
—Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Svoboda Today, a daily guide to developments in Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe, publishes an hourly updated world map depicting world regions affected by the rapidly expanding COVID-19 outbreaks.
—Radio Free Asia reports on how funeral homes in China’s Wuhan Province, location of the first reported outbreak of coronavirus last December 31, are now working around the clock to cremate victims’ corpses there. RFA also says Cambodian health officials have quarantined 44 citizens to test them for COVID-19.
Germany’s Deutsche Welle
—Germany’s BioNTech company and the U.S. pharmaceutical developer Pfizer announced March 17 that they’re launching a joint effort to create a vaccine to combat coronavirus. Both companies, according to Deutsche Welle, have signed a letter of intent to develop the vaccine. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s chief executive officer, is quoted as saying: “We believe we can accelerate our effort to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to people around the world who need it.”
A small dose of hope that brings us back to the conclusion of VOA’s Jamie Dettmer’s account cited at the beginning of this roundup. At a hospital in Lombardy, the Italian region worse stricken by the disease, correspondent Dettmer recounts a nurse’s grim recollection:
“Images of the sick and dying stay with her when she occasionally tries to take a break at home.
Even when patients in the hospital are dying,” the nurse says, “their families must be kept away.”
“The patients know what’s going on… you read it in their eyes. They ask doctors to tell their loved ones they love them. One elderly patient even asked the nurse to send his greeting to a newborn granddaughter he will never see.”
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