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Asiavision Members’ outstanding COVID-19 response with thousands of news stories uploaded

On January 3, 2020, VTV posted the first Asiavision story on an emerging novel coronavirus outbreak, noting how “Vietnam’s Ministry of Health is working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO), watching the pneumonia outbreak in China in order to devise suitable prevention measures.” This was eight days before China recorded its first death from the virus.

By January’s second week, the uploads started flowing into Asiavision’s news exchange with CCTV, China, leading the way. By the end of the month, CCTV posted 72 stories and was joint winner of the January Monthly Award for stepping up its same-day coverage, coordinating with Asiavision Centre to provide Members with the most up-to-date data as well as live feeds for Sister Unions.

On February 11, the virus was officially named COVID-19 and by the end of the month, CCTV had uploaded 198 C-19 related stories, topping Asiavision’s list. VTV was second with 107 uploads as part of a monthly C-19 total of 582. Longtime CCTV Asiavision Coordinator Liu Jun, remembers the month in Beijing as one of changing work practices, well before the rest of the world caught up.

“Besides body temperature tests at the entrance, we are all required to wear masks at work. Public facilities and areas are disinfected every day. We stay in the computer room all day,” she said.

“Although the buses are less crowded during the rush hour, I prefer to walk to work. It’s safer, I think. It takes about 50 minutes for me to walk [here] at a brisk speed, as a kind of morning exercise.”

Coordinator colleague Ying Wang cut her driving time to just 30 minutes, down from the 50 minutes it used to take her to get to work because of traffic jams before the outbreak. Liu Jun has been an Asiavision Coordinator since 1987 and Ying Wang started in 2007. Between them, they source, edit, translate and upload between 6-10 news stories a day, seven days a week.

In March and April, Asiavision’s coverage ramped up significantly with more than 1,100 COVID-19 related stories posted each month while in May, the total dropped slightly to 904. The highest daily total for C-19 stories was 58, recorded on March 18 which was also the first day of Malaysia’s lockdown when the News Department started working-from-home. To reflect the significance of the story and Asiavision’s unprecedented coverage, the format of the threetimes-daily Advisories was changed so all the COVID-19 coverage was at the top with Other Uploads further down.

A table was added and updated daily to show the number of cases and deaths for each AVN Member country, along with other countries of interest.