With India under a 21-day lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak, there have been numerous reports that vendors are not picking up newspapers because resident welfare association and housing societies in cities like Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and Mumbai, among others have barred newspaper delivery boys in their premises over safety issues.
In Mumbai, there has been no physical delivery of newspaper editions of Times of India, Economic Times, Hindustan Times and others since March 23. Raj Jain, chief executive officer, Bennett Coleman and Company (BCCL), has dismissed apprehensions in regards to the process of newspaper printing and distribution.
“Despite all the efforts and awareness, fake news is being circulated, especially with regards to the process of newspaper printing and distribution. I want each one of you to understand and further educate others within your ecosystem. The newspaper printing, folding and bundling are all done without the human touch,” Jain said.
He said that the bundles are loaded on to fumigated trucks by gloved and face-masked handlers and strict hygiene discipline has been encouraged amongst the delivery boys.
“More importantly, neither the WHO nor India’s Health Ministry has issued any report in any of its recommendations or advisories to restrict newspapers and milk packets as a step towards prevention/spread of the disease. There are enough eminent doctors including leading virologists who have categorically stated that the newspaper carries no risk of carrying the infection,” Jain added.
He said that newspaper is an essential commodity today owing to a heavy dose of misinformation floating on the electronic media and continues to deliver authenticated news and information around the epidemic.
“Please continue to receive your newspaper at home and rest assured it will only help in the crisis and not aggravate it,” he said.
The novel coronavirus, which started as an epidemic in China is now a global pandemic. The fast-moving deadly virus, Covid-19, has claimed thousands of lives across the globe and left many more people infected across over 150 countries so far. With the increasing number of cases in India, the government has put a three-week lockdown and simultaneously issued advisories to contain the spread of the disease.