Reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic

Media workers planning to cover the COVID-19 pandemic should consider the following safety information and advice.

On 09 July 2020, the World Health Organisation issued updated advice stating Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is likely to be airborne in specific settings. Such locations include (but are not limited to) confined spaces with little or no air flow and crowded places. You should be aware that the concentration of viral load in the air in such places will likely be significantly higher than normal, therefore increasing your chances of exposure.

 

Important: The following information is based upon advice and guidance issued by recognised health bodies such as the WHO (World Health Organisation), CDC (Centre for Disease Control) and PHE (Public Health England). Please note that due to the novel nature of COVID-19, this advice is regularly updated and aims to reduce the transmission of the disease, but there will always remain a risk of infection. RiskPal gives no guarantees, undertakings or warranties in this regard, and does not accept any legal liability or responsibility for the content or the accuracy of the information provided.

Pre-Assignment Considerations


  • To minimise the risk of exposure, and wherever possible, phone/online interviews should be carried out rather than in person.
  • Consider who is suitable for the assignment, taking into account an individual's age and any underlying health conditions. According to the CDC vulnerable categories include (but are not limited to) those aged 65 and over, and those who suffer from immunosuppression, respiratory issues (e.g. cystic fibrosis and asthma), diabetes, heart/lung/kidney issues or disease, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer and other rare diseases. Consideration should also be given to any employees who are pregnant
  • Be conscious of increased levels of hostility and prejudice towards certain nationalities, and/or any reports of racist attacks, as highlighted by U.N. Secretary General and Human Rights Watch
  • Discuss what plans your management team has in place to assist and support you should you fall ill while on assignment, taking into account the possibility of self-isolation and/or being grounded in a quarantine/lockdown zone for an extended period of time.
  • Consider and discuss what insurance is available and in place, particularly for any medical costs should you fall ill whilst on assignment
  • Individuals returning to the United Kingdom may be required to self isolate on arrival as per the latest UK government requirements. Ensure you have discussed this with staff and evaluated the impact of self isolation before international assignments are agreed. To minimise the risk of exposure and wherever possible, consider carrying out phone/online interviews rather than in person. Media workers should not be in the COVID-19 vulnerable category or have COVID-19 vulnerable people who depend upon them, particularly at home.




Psychological Well-Being


Discuss what plans your management team has in place to assist and support your psychological well being. Media workers may experience illness, bereavement and financial worry relating to COVID-19 - and may be working longer hours to keep up with workloads. In addition, home responsibilities may increase, with changes related to childcare, educational requirements and care of elderly relatives.

  • Even the most experienced journalists may struggle with reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak. Management should check-in on their journalists on a regular basis to see how they are coping, and to offer support if and when necessary.
  • Management should maintain an open door policy to discuss concerns / additional workloads, especially if fewer staff are working.
  • Use any Occupational Health and Employee Assistance Programmes to get help and advice.
  • Management should regularly review working hours, including travel time to and from work, which may have increased because of COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Family members will likely be concerned and/or stressed about covering the COVID-19 outbreak. Have a discussion with them about the risks and their concerns. If necessary, set up a conversation between family members and your organization’s medical advisers.
  • Consider the potential psychological impact of reporting from a location or area affected by COVID-19, especially if reporting from an emotionally distressing location such as a medical or isolation facility, or quarantine zone. A useful resource for media workers covering traumatic situations can be found via the DART Center for Journalism and Trauma




Avoiding Infection


Most countries are practicing social/physical distancing. Standard recommendations to avoid infection include:

  • Observe physical distancing measures whilst on assignment (a minimum of 1-2 metres, this distance depends upon your government's health and safety advice and/or specific local measures). You should be especially careful around those showing any signs or symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing, and/or when interviewing the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, anyone close to individuals who are symptomatic, health care workers treating COVID-19 patients, or workers in any high risk location.
  • Avoid shaking hands, hugging and / or kissing anybody.
  • Try to stand at an angle to a subject during an interview rather than face-on, always maintaining the recommended 2 meters or more distance.
  • Wash your hands regularly, properly and thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds at a time using hot water and soap. Ensure hands are dried in the appropriate way. A very useful guide on how to wash and dry your hands properly can be seen here
  • 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. ( The CDC recommends the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol). Do not substitute a regular hand washing routine by using hand sanitizer in its place.
  • Always cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. If you cough or sneeze into a tissue, dispose of it immediately in a safe and appropriate manner, and remember to thoroughly wash your hands afterwards.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, mouth, ears, etc. A good video about this can be seen here.
  • Avoid drinking/eating from cups/crockery/cutlery that may have come into contact with other people.
  • Individuals who smoke cigarettes, use vapes (e-cigarettes) and/or shisha pipes should thoroughly wash their hands before smoking, and avoid sharing cigarettes/mouthpieces due to the potential for cross contamination.
  • Ensure your hair is covered. Long hair should be tied up and covered.
  • Remove all jewellery and watches before any assignment, noting that the COVID-19 virus can remain live on many different surface types for varying lengths of time.
  • If you wear glasses, carefully clean them on a regular basis with hot water and soap.
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses on assignment, if possible, due to the likelihood of touching your eyes and increasing your chances of infection.
  • Consider what clothing you will wear, taking into account that certain fabrics can be wiped clean more easily than others. All clothing should be washed at a high temperature with detergent after any assignment.
  • Always try to interview people in an outside space. If you do need to interview indoors, select a location with some kind of airflow (i.e. open windows etc.) and avoid small confined rooms/spaces.
  • If possible try and avoid using cash on assignment, and ensure you clean your credit/debit cards/wallet/purse on a regular basis.
  • Avoid putting your hands into your pockets as much as possible.
  • Consider your mode of transportation to and from the assignment. Avoid traveling on public transportation during peak travel periods, and make sure to use alcohol based hand sanitiser on hands when disembarking.
  • If traveling in your own or work vehicle, be aware that an infected passenger can pass the virus onto others inside the vehicle. Travel with the windows down to ensure good airflow throughout the vehicle, and consider the use of face coverings or face masks whilst in the vehicle.
  • Take regular breaks and be mindful of fatigue/energy levels, taking into account that tired individuals are more likely to make mistakes with their hygiene regime. Also factor in that individuals may have long distances to drive before and after work.
  • 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. Most government health bodies now recommend self-quarantine to prevent the infection of others. If you are in a heavily infected area you will likely encounter other COVID-19 infected patients at crowded treatment centers, therefore increasing your chances of exposure.
  • Only consume cooked meat and eggs.




Equipment Safety


The potential to spread COVID-19 via contaminated equipment is real. A strict cleaning and disinfecting regime should be implemented and adhered to at all times:

  • Only take the minimum amount of equipment necessary with you into an affected location
  • The use of long sight lenses will help maintain a safe distance on location
  • Wherever possible use mobile equipment rather than those with cables
  • When on assignment, consider how you will store your equipment. Don't leave anything lying around and put everything back in its case and close the case (i.e. some kind of hard sided flight case, which is much easier to wipe down and keep clean)
  • If possible and practical, consider putting some kind of plastic wrapping/protection around equipment when using it. This will minimise the surface area of the equipment that could become contaminated, and be easier to clean and decontaminate
  • Carry fully charged spare batteries with you and avoid charging any equipment on site, as this is an additional item that could become contaminated
  • Always decontaminate all equipment with fast-acting antimicrobial wipes such as Meliseptol, followed by thorough disinfection, including but not limited to cell phones, tablets, leads, plugs, earphones, laptops, hard drives, cameras, press passes, lanyards etc
  • For guests use low cost earphones/earpieces wherever possible and treat them as disposable.
  • Ensure all equipment is decontaminated again when returning it to base, ensuring that those responsible for the equipment are made fully aware in advance and that they are trained in how to safely clean the equipment. Make sure that no equipment is just dumped and left lying around without being signed back in to the person responsible for cleaning
  • If using a vehicle for the assignment, ensure that the interior is given a thorough clean after any assignment, ideally by somebody who is properly trained. Particular attention should be paid to the door handles, steering wheel, gear stick, hand brake lever, wing mirrors, head rests, seat belts, dashboard and window winders/catches/buttons etc




Medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


Safely putting on and taking off any medical PPE (such as disposable gloves, face masks, disposable shoe covers, protective aprons/overalls/bodysuits etc) requires the strict observance of and adherence to best safety practices. Please click here for general guidance. The risk of cross contamination is high, so do not be complacent about these measures. If in any doubt seek expert guidance and training before going on any assignment. Please note that in some countries, medical PPE is still in short supply can can be difficult to source, so using such equipment can create shortages.

  • Ensure any PPE used is the correct size for you. Badly fitting PPE is liable to tear and/or restrict movement (if too tight), and may catch on objects like door handles and tear (if too loose).

  • Use reputable brands of medical PPE, paying attention to the minimum required safety specifications. Beware of counterfeit PPE which will not meet the required stringent safety standards. Some of the leading and most respected brands can be seen here.

  • Use protective gloves if working in or visiting an infected site such as a medical treatment facility. Note that nitrile gloves offer a higher degree of protection than latex. Wearing two pairs improves safety.

  • If wearing full body coveralls, ensure you use the toilet/restroom in advance of donning the PPE.

  • If reporting from a higher risk location such as a medical treatment facility, additional medical PPE, such as a bodysuit and full face mask, will almost certainly be required.

  • Depending on the assignment, you may need to wear disposable footwear or use waterproof overshoes, both of which must be wiped/rinsed off as soon as you exit an affected location.

  • It is recommended that all medical PPE is donned/doffed under the supervision of a trained professional, taking into account that this may be the moment of exposure. This video is useful as a guide, although should not be used as a replacement for training/supervision.

  • Never reuse single-use PPE. Any PPE that can be reused needs to be properly decontaminated and sanitised. Ensure all contaminated medical PPE is disposed off in the appropriate manner BEFORE leaving an affected site.

A useful point of reference for safely donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) medical PPE can be seen via the following links, produced by leading PPE manufacturer Dupont




Face Masks


Most countries are now advising the use of face coverings and/or face masks by the general public, in accordance with guidance from The WHO and The CDC . Wearing a face mask is particularly important when working in a higher risk location, such as a hospital or mortuary. N.B: Unless used correctly, there are concerns that face masks can actually become a source of infection. A study by the Lancet, shows a detectable level of infectious virus still present on a surgical mask up to 7 days after exposure. Based on this study, taking off, reusing or touching your face when wearing a mask could mean risking infection. If you do wear a mask you should follow the following advice:

  • An N95 mask (or FFP2 / FFP3) is recommended instead of a standard ‘surgical’ mask.
  • Ensure that the mask fits securely over the bridge of the nose and chin, minimising gaps in the fit. Ensure facial hair is removed and maintained to ensure a good tight seal to the face.
  • Strict adherence to face mask safety is essential. Avoid touching the front of the mask, only ever remove it by the straps, and avoid adjusting the mask once on unless absolutely necessary. Wash hands if they come into contact with the mask.
  • Reusing standard face masks is high risk. Always dispose of used face masks immediately into a sealed bag.
  • Replace the mask with a new, clean, dry mask as soon as it becomes damp/humid.
  • Remember that using a face mask is only one part of personal protection. Not touching your mouth, nose, and eyes and regularly washing your hands with hot water and soap is absolutely essential.
  • Be aware that face masks may be in short supply and/or subject to sharp price increases, depending on the location.




Digital Security


  • Be alert to the risks posed by reporting on and/or from countries with authoritarian regimes, which will likely be closely monitoring coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Certain governments may try to conceal the extent of any outbreak and/or censor the media accordingly
  • Be aware of increased levels of online hostility when reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic. Review best practice for protecting yourself against attacks
  • Note that governments and tech companies are increasingly using surveillance as a way to track the spread of COVID-19. This includes the NSO Group, which created Pegasus, a spyware that has been used to target journalists. Transparency International is tracking these global developments on their website
  • Read up on online conferencing and privacy issues so you are aware of what these services are doing with your data and what they have access to. Be aware that with an increasing number of people working from home services have been targeted by hackers.
  • Pause and think before you click on links or download documents containing information about COVID-19. Criminals are leveraging the current health crisis and panic to target individuals and organisations with sophisticated phishing attacks that could lead to malware being installed on your devices.
  • Exercise caution when clicking on any COVID-19 related links on social media or in messaging apps, some of which may direct you to sites that infect devices with malware.
  • Be aware of malicious apps that target individuals for ransomware, such as COVID-19 Tracker
  • Note that certain maps showing up-to-date information on COVID-19 from reputable sources, such as the WHO, are reported to contain malware that could be used to steal passwords
  • Be conscious of state-sponsored misinformation, as well as general misinformation, something that the WHO has specifically warned about. See the WHO myth buster guide
  • Be cautious of information about COVID-19 shared through chats on messaging apps, which may contain fake news and hoaxes
  • Be aware that COVID-19 content on Facebook is currently being moderated by AI instead of human content checkers, which has led to the removal of legitimitate content about the disease being removed in error




Physical Security & Crime


Media workers should be aware of increasing levels of anti-media sentiment and hostility towards them, including verbal harassment and physical assault whilst on assignment. As the global economic situation continues to decline, with more people losing their jobs and falling into poverty, the likelihood of an increase in criminal activity is real. Police resources are stretched and there is a risk that criminals may take advantage.

  • If you can travel for an international assignment, research the latest security situation in your destination. Levels of violent incidents, protests and ongoing protests have increased and been exacerbated around the world by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Be particularly careful if reporting from rural / remote areas. People may be suspicious and/or angry towards ‘outsiders’ for fear that you could be bringing COVID-19 with you. Pay attention to any reports of hostility towards foreigners in the destination country.
  • Ensure you carry identification and all relevant press credentials with you at all times.
  • Be aware of a potentially heavy-handed response from the police relating to COVID-19 lockdown and crowd control measures, such as the use of live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas
  • If reporting from a prison or detention center, journalists should be alert to the dangers posed by inmates protesting and/or rioting regarding COVID-19 measures.
  • Be aware of a potential increase in crime levels, noting that certain countries have started to release inmates to ease the prison population during the COVID-19 pandemic. Note that supplies could start running low, increasing the chances of looting and robbery.
  • Journalists in countries with an authoritarian regime should be alert to the threat of detention, arrest and/or deportation when reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic.




Travelling For International Assignments


Due to global travel restrictions, international travel remains challenging. If an overseas assignment is possible you should consider the following:

  • Depending on the location visited, individuals returning to the United Kingdom may be required to self isolate on arrival. Consider and discuss who this will be problematic for.
  • Always check if your destination location is imposing quarantine measures on arrival, or if travelling journalists are exempt from host country quarantine measures.
  • Be aware that lockdown measures and/or curfews may vary throughout different parts of a country, and subject to change with little or no notice.
  • Identify all medical treatment facilities in the area you’ll be operating in. Note that healthcare workers may strike with little or no notice, and supplies of medical PPE may run out / be non-existent.
  • Ensure all relevant vaccinations and disease prophylaxis are up-to-date for your destination in good time. Consider getting the flu vaccine to prevent confusion over any symptoms you may develop.
  • Check if your destination country requires a medical certificate to prove you are COVID-19 free. Some examples can be seen here
  • Check your travel insurance policy, noting that obtaining cover for COVID-19 related travel may not be possible. Be aware that many governments have issued varying levels of travel advice and alerts against international travel.
  • Regularly check the status of any event you plan on attending, taking into account that many countries have banned public gatherings altogether, or gatherings above a certain number of people.
  • Ensure you have a contingency plan in place, taking into account that urban centers, specific regions, and/or entire countries can be locked down and quarantined with little or no notice.
  • Many land borders remain closed around the world. Any borders that do reopen could close again with no warning, something that should be factored into your contingency planning.
  • Do not travel if you are sick. Most international and regional airports, as well as other transportation hubs, have implemented strict health screening measures. Travelers will almost certainly face testing and/or enforced quarantine/self-isolation on arrival.
  • Be aware that global travel options are still extremely limited due to airlines cancelling flights to/from many destinations.
  • It is advisable to purchase fully refundable flight tickets, noting that COVID-19 has caused significant financial distress for many airlines.
  • Consider what supplies you may need to take with you. Future shortages of face masks, hand sanitizers, soap, canned food, and toilet paper cannot be ruled out and should be considered. Note that strike action and/or a shortage of workers due to COVID-19 infections could exacerbate the situation in your destination.
  • Be aware that countries with limited water supplies, such as Jordan, may start to experience increased demand and shortages as lockdown measures continue and summer temperatures creep up.
  • Check on the latest visa situation for your destination, noting that numerous countries have stopped issuing visas and suspended visas that have already been issued for travel.
  • Maintain flexible itineraries and allow additional time at airports around the world, taking into account health screening measures and temperature check points. The same applies at some railway stations, ports/docks, and long-haul bus stations.
  • Keep up to date with any changes to your point of arrival, noting that certain countries will only allow foreign nationals to enter at certain airports and terminals.
  • Continually monitor local sources for news of any inner-city movement restrictions within the country you’re visiting.




Post-Assignment Considerations


Media workers should immediately go into self isolation if they develop any symptoms, and ensure they have a contingency plan in place to manage the period of self isolation. Please check the relevant government advice, and monitor any quarantine and isolation procedures being implemented at both your origin and your destination. N.B: Individuals returning to the United Kingdom may be required to self isolate on arrival, as per the latest UK government requirements. Ensure you have discussed this with staff and evaluated the impact of self isolation before international assignments are agreed. More detailed information and guidance about self isolation can be found here If you do not have symptoms

  • Continually monitor your health for any signs of symptoms common to COVID-19 infection
  • Depending on the rate of infection in the country you are in, you should consider keeping a journal with names/numbers of individuals you come into close proximity with for 14 days after your return. This will help with contact tracing should you start showing symptoms
If you do have symptoms (however mild)
  • Inform your management team and the authorities
  • Work with them to take appropriate transportation from the airport or other transport hub to your home. Do not simply get in a taxi
  • Go home and follow the relevant self-isolation advice
  • If you fall ill and share accommodation with others, a 14 day isolation period for all should be observed. A useful guide to this can be found here . Particular care needs to be taken when using the bathroom, toilet and kitchen facilities, as well as any household objects/items, so to avoid cross contamination
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds at a time, using soap and hot water
  • Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure you can successfully stay at home. Ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
  • Stay at least 2 metres away from other people in your home whenever possible
  • Sleep alone, if possible
  • Stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible




Introduction


Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness, ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). The Novel Coronavirus is a new strain of Coronavirus first recorded in humans in December 2019. The virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), whilst the disease is called coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The virus is present in secretions from the nose, throat, mouth and lungs, and can contaminate the eyes, nose and mouth. Whilst most people start showing symptoms around three to five days after infection, the maximum incubation period is still unconfirmed. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle ache, loss of smell and/or taste, tiredness and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Though the most vulnerable people appear to be the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and autoimmune diseases (amongst others), COVID-19 can affect people of all ages and health. This also includes pregnant people. Steps should be taken to avoid placing vulnerable people in a position of direct contact or exposure to infected people or spaces.
To stay up-to-date with the latest health advice, outbreak news and general updates, please monitor the World Health Organisation website.




Cleaning Electrical Equipment


The following points offer some general guidance regarding the cleaning of equipment. Always ensure you have read the manufacturers guidelines before attempting any cleaning.

  • Always unplug/remove all power sources, devices, and cables.
  • Keep any liquids away from your equipment, and do not use aerosol sprays, bleaches, and abrasives - these will almost certainly damage your equipment.
  • Never spray any substance directly onto your device.
  • Only use a non abrasive, soft, lint-free cloth.
  • Make the cloth damp / moist - but NOT wet! Add some soap to the cloth and rub it into the cloth with your hand.
  • Thoroughly wipe the device down several times.
  • Do not allow any moisture to get into any openings (charging sockets, earphone sockets, keyboards etc).
  • Dry your device with a clean, dry and soft cloth.
  • Certain manufacturers recommend 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes for any hard and nonporous surfaces.
  • If disinfecting your equipment always check with the manufacturer first, as disinfectants could damage your device.
More detailed guidance can be seen via this article.




Flight Safety


Travellers should be aware of the heightened risk of air travel due to virus droplets travelling further within pressurised cabins. If you are flying internally or internationally you should research and practice the following safety measures:

  • Face masks should be worn by everybody at all times whilst on the aircraft
  • Cabin crew should make all passengers aware of COVID-19 safety measures before boarding and whilst on the aircraft
  • The aircraft should be deep cleaned on a regular basis
  • If possible, try and book a flight with a reduced number of passengers in order to maintain physical/social distancing guidance.
  • Avoid purchasing food and drinks from the trolley service, due to the potential risk of cross contamination
  • Ensure that you go to the toilet before boarding the aircraft, and if possible avoid using the toilet whilst in flight




Covering Civil Disorder & Protests


With some protestors ignoring physical/social distancing guidelines, journalists should be aware of the risk of exposure to COVID-19 whilst covering any demonstrations/protests. Pre-Protest Planning

  • Identify who is suitable for reporting from protest locations, taking into account an individual's age, any underlying health conditions (such as diabetes and asthma), as well as those who are/could be pregnant. More detailed guidance on who is considered high risk/vulnerable can be seen via the CDC website here
  • Consider if the journalists’ ethnicity, historical work and/or known political leanings could potentially increase the chances of them becoming a target of the protesters.
  • Identify what equipment is suitable for covering protests. Long distance lenses should help maintain physical distance from individuals whilst helping obtain good quality footage. Use directional ‘fishpole’ microphones to interview people on the ground, as well as mobile battery powered equipment rather than those with cables.
  • Take an adequate supply of alcohol based hand sanitiser to last the duration of the assignment, as well as alcohol based wipes.
  • Consider the necessity of wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) on assignment, such as disposable gloves, safety googles and a N95 facemask (or FFP2 / FFP3). If wearing a facemask it is essential to follow the relevant face mask safety guidance. Note that a full face respirator may be necessary if there is a risk of tear gas being used (see more about tear gas below).
  • Take a change of clothes in case an individual sneezes or coughs over you.
  • Consider your mode of transportation to and from the protest location. Avoid traveling on public transportation during peak travel periods and make sure to use alcohol based hand sanitiser on hands when disembarking.
  • If traveling in a personal or company vehicle, be aware that an infected passenger can pass the virus onto the others inside the vehicle. Travel with the windows down to ensure good airflow throughout the vehicle, and consider the use of face coverings or face masks whilst in the vehicle.
On The Ground
  • Remain vigilant at all times to the risk of people spitting or coughing close to or on you, be it accidentally or deliberately. If individuals with anti-media views/sentiment are in attendance, minimise your proximity to them.
  • Identify where you will position yourself during reporting, noting the recommended safe minimum distance of at least 1-2 metres with everybody at all times (this distance depends upon your government's advice or specific local measures). A rooftop vantage point or a balcony should afford a greater degree of protection from potential infection over reporting from ground level amongst the crowd. Choosing a safe position becomes even more important if live streaming for any length of time.
  • Identify all possible escape/evacuation routes in case threatened by any individual.
  • Avoid wearing jewellery and ensure long hair is tucked up and put away (e.g under a hat).
  • Plan and take regular rest breaks, noting that tired individuals are more likely to make mistakes with hand washing and hygiene routine.
  • Ensure hands are sanitised on a regular basis. Follow this up with a thorough hot water and soap wash as soon as possible.
Tear Gas The use of tear gas can result in sneezing, coughing, spitting, crying and the production of mucus that obstructs breathing. In some cases, individuals may vomit, and breathing may become laboured. Such symptoms could potentially increase media workers' level of exposure to Coronavirus infection via airborne virus droplets. In addition, be aware that tear gas could potentially increase an individual’s susceptibility to pathogens, such as Novel Coronavirus.
  • Media workers who suffer from respiratory issues such as asthma, are listed in the vulnerable category, so should avoid covering protests if tear gas is likely to be used
  • Wear personal protective equipment that includes a gas mask/full face respirator, eye protection and a helmet - all of which should help protect you. Media workers using a full face respirator should be aware that by doing so, they may be vulnerable to more violent actions by police forces. Media workers without the appropriate PPE should always consider their position, and retreat to a safe location if tear gas is deployed.
  • Contact lenses are not advisable. If large amounts of tear gas are being used, there is the possibility of high concentrations of gas sitting in areas with no movement of air.
  • Try and wear clothes that cover your arms and legs, and avoid wearing any make up and oil-based creams
  • Take note of any potential landmarks (i.e. posts, kerbs) that can be used to help you navigate out of the area if you are struggling to see.
  • If you are exposed to tear gas, try to find higher ground and stand in fresh air to allow the breeze to carry the gas away. Do not rub your eyes or face as this may worsen the situation. Washing gas particles off the skin with a water bottle may bring temporary relief, but can be counter productive as chemicals are washed back into eyes, nose etc. Once possible, shower in cold water to wash the gas from skin, but do not bathe. Clothing may need to be washed several times to remove the crystals completely, or even discarded.
Post-Protest Considertions
  • Wipe down all equipment on location using alcohol based wipes before placing it back in cases, bags and/or in your vehicle.
  • All clothes and footwear worn on assignment should be removed before entering your home. Place all clothing into a bag, and then wash on a hot cycle with detergent. Avoid any contact with members of your household until you have completed this process.
  • Any PPE used should be safely placed in a sealed bag immediately after use, and disposed of in the appropriate manner.
  • All equipment should be thoroughly/deep cleaned upon return to the office by a dedicated team. If going home with the equipment, place everything on a tarpaulin on an outside floor to clean it before taking it inside (e.g. in your garage, in the back garden etc)
  • Ensure you clean your vehicle after any assignment, paying particular attention to common touch points such as door handles, steering wheel, gear stick, hand brake lever, wing mirrors, head rests, seat belts, dashboard, and window winders/catches/buttons.
  • Ensure you always wash your hands thoroughly and properly with hot water and soap after any equipment cleaning, and/or removing clothes and/or PPE. A useful guide on how to wash and dry your hands properly can be found on the WHO website here.




Identifying Higher Risk Locations


If reporting from any of the following higher risk locations, enquire in advance about the necessary hygiene measures that are in place. If in any doubt do not visit:

  • a hospital / healthcare facility
  • a morgue / mortuary / crematorium / funeral service
  • a care home for the elderly
  • manufacturing locations susceptible to high rates of transmission, such as meat processing plants
  • a protest location
  • a densely packed urban dwelling (i.e. a slum or favela)
  • a refugee camp / prison / detention centre
  • on location with any of the emergency services (particularly paramedics / ambulance service)
  • the home of anybody who is sick, elderly, pregnant, or who has a health condition
  • a quarantine / isolation zone




Microphone Safety


All microphones are a potential source of cross-contamination. Directional ‘boom’ or ‘fishpole’ microphones should be used as standard practice for vox pops, as they help individuals maintain a safe distance from each other.

  • Microphone covers should be disinfected and washed at a high temperature with detergent at the end of every assignment. Seek guidance/training on how to safely remove the cover to prevent any potential cross contamination. Try and avoid using the ‘dead cat/wind muff’ type covers, especially indoors, which are more difficult to clean and could potentially spread the virus.
Radio mics should only be used under controlled circumstances combined with the adherence to strict hygiene protocols:
  • Use anti-microbial, disinfectant or bleach based products to thoroughly decontaminate and clean radio mics before and after each individual use. Alcohol based cleaning products should have an alcohol content of at least 70%.
  • The putting on and use of a radio microphone should be demonstrated from a safe distance (at least 1-2 metres, depending on your government's advice). If this is not possible, ensure that all individuals involved wear a face mask for the demonstration and minimise the amount of time in close contact with each other. Individuals should wash or sanitise their hands once the microphone is in place.
  • Those wearing a radio microphone should tie up any long hair, and avoid wearing jewellery and loose clothing. They should be instructed to avoid touching or adjusting the microphone unless absolutely necessary.
  • Wear disposable gloves when removing the microphone from an individual and whilst cleaning the microphone. Once cleaning is complete, immediately dispose of the gloves in a sealed bag. Be particularly careful when removing the gloves - as this is when the chances of cross-contamination are highest.
  • All cleaning should take place in a well-ventilated area, and on a hard or disposable surface (e.g. plastic sheet) that can be wiped down and disinfected afterwards. Hard surfaces should be dried off with a clean paper towel after cleaning.
  • Always thoroughly wash hands with hot water and soap after cleaning, for at least 20 seconds. Ensure hands are dried in the appropriate way. A very useful guide on how to wash and dry your hands properly can be seen here
  • All clothing that has come into contact with the radio microphone should be washed with detergent at a high temperature after an assignment (at least 60 degrees centigrade). Take a change of clothes with you on assignment to change into if necessary.
  • Radio microphones should be placed in a clean and sealed bag when cleaning has been completed. On return to the office, ensure the microphone is signed back in to the person responsible for cleaning the equipment.





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