'Covering Covid-19 was the most difficult assignment' - TrueID

'Covering Covid-19 was the most difficult assignment'

Philippine News AgencyAugust 18, 2021

NEW DELHI – When India was hit with a second devastating wave of Covid-19 earlier this year, at the forefront were photojournalists, who with the help of images told India's pandemic story to the world.

On the eve of World Photography Day, which is being observed Thursday, Anadolu Agency spoke to a few photojournalists in India who put their lives at risk to bring out stories on the pandemic.

The widely talked about images, which went viral and triggered outrage globally, were taken by Reuters Chief Photographer Danish Siddiqui based in India, who was killed in crossfire in July covering the war in Afghanistan.

Praveen Jain, India’s leading photojournalist, who traveled across India since the first wave of the pandemic to report the situation on the ground, told Anadolu Agency that it was the most difficult assignment in his life.

"I have covered war and other conflict situations, but covering Covid-19 was very difficult, in the sense because you were not aware who was infected...Since the start, people were not ready to meet, and it was difficult to travel as well," he said. "But despite that, I traveled to every part of the country so that we could tell the ground reality."

He said he was "satisfied" that on occasions, his work encouraged the government to act to help the people.

"In Ahmedabad, we saw patients were waiting for hours at the hospital and the situation was bad...But when those pictures were published, it came into the limelight at the national level, and the government acted," said Jain.

Jain, who also got infected initially with Covid-19 when he was on an assignment, said photographers were mostly visible on the ground during the pandemic.

Jaipal Singh, a photographer based in Chandigarh working for a prominent English daily, explained how difficult it was to go on assignment every day and return home in the evening, unsure if he was carrying Covid-19.

"It was very difficult to go out on assignment during the Covid-19 [pandemic]. There was always a fear in my mind that I might infect my family as well. I would ensure that I didn't meet family members directly when I returned home," he said.

He said he had to take extra precautions when going home because of his elderly mother.

"I didn't meet her for many days, because I had fears that I would go out on assignments and she might get infected because of me," he said.

Singh said that photographers like him had no other option other than to go and get pictures from the ground.

"I visited hospitals several times to cover the stories. At times, it would feel scary, but there was no other option," he said. "Thanks to God, successfully, photographers brought out the stories on the ground about the pandemic," he said. (Anadolu)

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