Journalists urged to observe personal safety when covering Covid-19 pandemic

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Journalists have been urged to be careful and observe the set hygiene standards when covering stories on the Coronavirus
Journalists have been urged to be careful and observe the set hygiene standards when covering stories on the Coronavirus

Journalists have been advised to be on the look out and first observe personal safety while covering stories on the Covid-19 pandemic. Program Officer at Article 19 Mr. Robert Wanjala advised journalists to avoid close contact with anybody showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing.

Speaking in Kitale to journalists drawn from Turkana, West Pokot and Trans Nzoia Counties during the closure of journalists’ safety training, Wanjala urged journalists be extra keen. “No story is worth dying for. Those who are planning to cover the Covid-19 outbreak should follow safety information, and keep up to date with all of the latest developments and restrictions,” he said.

He said that journalists should be conscious of maintaining a ‘safe’ distance when interviewing anyone showing symptoms, the elderly, those with health conditions, anyone close to individuals who are symptomatic, health-care workers treating Covid-19 patients, or workers in high risk locations.

“Use directional microphones from a safe distance rather than clip mics. Wash your hands regularly with hot water and soap. Use anti-bacterial gel or wipes if hot water and soap is not available, but always follow this up with a hot water and soap wash as soon as possible,” he said.

He called on journalists to use protective gloves if working in or visiting an infected site such as a medical treatment facility.

Wanjala urged journalists to ensure all equipment is decontaminated again when returning it to base, ensuring that those responsible for the equipment are made fully aware in advance.

“If you are operating at any location where Covid-19 could be present, always decontaminate all equipment with fast acting antimicrobial wipes such as Meliseptol, followed by thorough disinfection. Always ensure your hands are washed thoroughly with hot water and soap before, during, and after leaving an affected area. If you develop symptoms, especially fever or shortness of breath, consider how you will seek medical treatment,” he said.

On social distancing, Wanjala noted that when visiting a health facility, a care home for the elderly, a quarantine zone, animal markets and/or a farm, inquire about the hygiene measures that are in place.