Newsplus wishes to draw the attention of all stakeholders and the general public to best practices recommended by experts with regard to social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), especially at the media briefings organised by different task forces on the coronavirus pandemic.
FIRST, WE ALL KNOW THAT NO ONE KNOWS WHO HAS THE VIRUS UNTIL TESTED.
- The essence of the face mask is not only to protect the wearers from contracting the disease through infected droplets in their immediate space, but also to prevent them from spreading the virus if they are asymptomatic carriers. The practice of removing the mask when officials want to address the media is totally wrong. This is because carriers could unwittingly transmit the virus to others through droplets of saliva into the media microphones on the lectern. These same microphones will be handled later by reporters and used to conduct interviews, during which others may come in contact with those droplets and touch their faces and/or clothing with them.
- The droplets also fall on the surface of the podium/lectern itself and, depending on the material, may stay there for a long time. Various speakers place their hands and hand notes on this surface and may later touch their faces, clothing or other people and surfaces with those same hands.
- The sign language interpreters, who wear no face masks, are often in close proximity to the speakers and could be recipients of infected droplets. Naturally, some people emit more droplets of saliva than others when they speak, especially when they produce dental fricatives and bilabial plosives (sounds involving the teeth and the lips, such as p, t, f, etc.)
- Provision should be made for central sound boxes with microphone feeds from which reporters can record the audio of the briefing directly into their devices. This is not the era to display logos. I recall that as a State House Correspondent, it was a common practice for reporters at the Presidential Villa to place their organisations’ branded microphones on the podium in the Council Chambers media briefing auditorium even when they were not recording with those microphones. The idea was to display ‘to whom it may concern’ that they were present at the Weekly Executive Council Meeting Briefing. There is no place for such vanity in this battle.
The central microphone and the lectern should be sanitized before and after each speaker uses them and the speakers should learn to keep their hands away from the microphone and the surface of the lectern.
The video below shows how the microphone and lectern should be sanitized at media briefings or any event with multiple speakers, including churches and mosques:
NOTE that the sign language interpreter is in another location using visuals and audio from the live briefing to perform her job, but synchronised by the technical experts.
- Optics are very important in this ‘war’. Those on the frontlines of the battle should practise and demonstrate what they teach. The officials briefing the media cannot be bunched closely together while telling the public to maintain social distance
- Participants at events should sit/stand at least 6 feet (approximately 2 metres) apart
- Whereas the sign language interpreters cannot wear masks, as their facial body language helps their audience to understand them, they should keep the prescribed social distance from the speakers
- Reporters should carry portable sanitizers with them and ensure that they sanitize their microphones and their hands and equipment always. Everyone should remember to use sanitizers on the hands for at least 20 seconds – as if you are washing your hands – and not just rubbed on the palms
- Be cautious when handling door handles and elevator or ATM buttons and surfaces at event venues and public places
- Members of the public who may be interviewed by reporters should refrain from handling the microphones and keep a safe distance during the interview
- Media organisations should invest in boom microphones to help their reporters keep a safe distance from interviewees
- Media organisations, union and labour leaders should, as a matter of urgency, conduct training sessions for their reporters, in particular, and workers in general, on anti-coronavirus-spread measures and procedures
STAY AT HOME!
Above all, everyone should learn to stay at home as much as possible, as advised by the experts. Those who were fortunate to stock up supplies before the lockdown should manage them well because it is uncertain whether the lockdown will be extended. Those not so fortunate to have reserve supplies may have to consider fasting this period. After all, Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days and 40 nights at the beginning of His mission to save humanity.
Last Line: You can’t be TOO CAREFUL with CORONAVIRUS and you definitely can’t afford to be TOO CARELESS.
PREVENTION IS CHEAPER THAN CURE!
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