With the spread of COVID-19 impacting the world, the United States Agency for Global Media and its networks have remained committed to providing accurate and unbiased information about the coronavirus, clarifying any misinformation, and exposing disinformation related to the pandemic.
China and North Korea
Voice of America and Radio Free Asia both covered stories regarding disinformation campaigns by the Chinese government and their attempts to expand their global presence during this pandemic.
RFA has also continued its coverage on the growing skepticism among Chinese citizens surrounding the country’s official death numbers due to coronavirus. This coverage led to the highlighting of a report done by the Chinese Human Rights Defenders network, which stated that China’s government was targeting thousands of citizens for speaking out about the pandemic since its outbreak in Wuhan.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian service also honed in on the lack of trustworthiness of China regarding their reported infection numbers.
RFA’s Korean Service continued to report on the questionable announcement by the North Korean government that the country was completely free of any COVID-19 cases.
RFE/RL also focused in on Russia’s own efforts to spread misinformation and to use the pandemic to challenge the credibility of Western leadership. In Steve Gutterman’s “The Week in Russia” blog, Gutterman pointed out the various techniques and tactics that the Russian government is using to spread misinformation to its citizens and globally.
RFE/RL also clarified confusion surrounding Russian aid to the United States and concluded that the United States paid for the Russian medical equipment at a discounted rate.
VOA debunked a reoccurring story in Russian news coverage that falsely stated that COVID-19 was a result of efforts to create biological weapons in US-funded labs in Georgia and Ukraine.
In Iran, VOA’s Persian service continued to supply accurate estimates of COVID-19 cases in the country and also highlighted the social media reaction to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s claim that the novel coronavirus was built specifically for Iranians.
Middle East Broadcasting Networks’ Alhurra reported on how extremist groups like ISIS are using the global pandemic to push out propaganda and call for attacks due to the fact that world governments are occupied with the COVID-19 crisis.
RFE/RL covered the mass return of refugees from Iran to Afghanistan, as well as the first case of COVID-19 appearing in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
Reported Firsts around the World
USAGM reported on the first COVID-19 deaths in two countries over the past week.
RFE/RL reported on the first COVID-19 related death in Belarus. Despite the death, the country has continued to allow their soccer league to continue play in front of fans, in what President Alexander Lukashenko called a sign of strength.
Current Time Asia covered Kazakhstan’s first COVID-19 death and possible malpractices involved in the deaths.