Pakistan didn't cause the pandemic - racist British reports will increase hate crime.
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The Sun, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail have issued the following misleading and harmful headlines insinuating that half of COVID-19 cases came from Pakistan:
The Sun, 27 June 2020, 1:29pm: ‘DEADLY SPREAD: Half of UK imported coronavirus cases ‘originate from Pakistan’ amid calls for tougher checks on ‘high risk countries’.
The Telegraph, 26 June 2020, 9:30pm: ‘Exclusive: Half of UK’s imported Covid-19 infections are from Pakistan’.
The Daily Mail, 27 June 2020, 5:20pm: ‘Pakistan was the origin for HALF of Britain's imported coronavirus cases - amid calls for tougher quarantine checks from 'high-risk' countries’.
In this era of fake news, what are the actual facts?
- Since 4 June 2020, only 30 cases came from Pakistan. Minimal, unlike the headlines suggest.
- Most 'imported cases' originated in Europe to begin with, according to BBC reports, coming from Spain, France and Italy. In March, 20,000 people were flying in from Spain every day, whereas only 65,000 people travelled from Pakistan since March on mostly British passports. Yet, the stories are leading with this figure of 65,000 people - insinuating an influx of disease thanks to Pakistan. But regardless of where these cases came from - from British travellers returning from Europe or otherwise - it’s only the Government who is to blame for mishandling the situation and not reacting soon enough to save lives.
- Due to Public Health England's own guidelines, we have only recently started recording origins, so the data will be biased from those countries only just experiencing coronavirus peaks now.
- Pakistan has sadly lost 4,000 people to the virus. The UK has sadly lost over 43,000. This is disproportionate coverage of Pakistan.
We need to speak up. We need to stop the racist reports. Here's why we're signing this petition.
1. The Sun, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail need to apologise for their misleading headlines, and take them down or amend them to contextualise the information. They need to apologise to Pakistani communities and people of colour for stoking racial tensions. In the context of fascist, white supremacist rioting on our streets, responsible reporting saves lives.
2. IPSO needs to investigate these articles for not meeting 'Accuracy' on the Editor's Code of Conduct, as they do not meet the public interest test. They actively endanger the health and safety of Pakistanis and those assumed to be Pakistanis. Racist hate crime against South and East Asians has tripled compared to last year, due to coverage like this. These articles are not ‘Raising or contributing to a matter of public debate’, so much as stoking division. This material is not already in the public domain, as the newspapers have not provided the source of the Public Health England data, and it is not easily available on their website.
3. Public Health England knows that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people are dying disproportionately due to structural racism, as uncovered in their own report. The data referred to in the news reports aren't publicly available in easy-to-access formats on their website - why? PHE needs to apologise for harm caused by this 'exclusive' release, and contextualise it for lay people to explain travellers from Pakistan aren't responsible for bringing COVID-19 to our shores. PHE needs to commit to responsible reporting of the facts.
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