Health safety tips for journalists

Health safety tips for journalists (from

Avoiding Infection

Many countries are now practicing social distancing. If 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. If in any doubt, do not visit. Standard recommendations to avoid infection include:

  • Avoid close contact (at least 6 feet distance) with anybody showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing. Always cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
  • Consider your mode of transportation to and from the assignment. Avoid traveling on public transportation at rush hour and make sure to use alcohol gel on hands when disembarking. (The CDC recommends the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.) If traveling in your own vehicle, be aware that anyone infected in the vehicle, can pass it onto the others in the vehicle
  • 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. Some reporters working in high risk areas are washing the mic sponge covers in hot water on a daily basis
  • 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
  • Use protective gloves if working in or visiting an infected site such as a medical treatment facility. Other medical personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a bodysuit and full face mask may also be necessary
  • Reporters tell us they are increasingly washing their clothing at high temperature after returning from high risk areas
  • Only consume cooked meat and eggs
  • If working in an affected health facility, market, or farm, use disposable footwear or use waterproof overshoes, both of which must be wiped/rinsed off as soon as you exit the location. If using waterproof overshoes, they should be disposed of before leaving the scene and should never be reused
  • 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. Ensure all equipment is decontaminated again when returning it to base, ensuring that those responsible for the equipment are made fully aware in advance
  • 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. Some government health bodies may recommend self-quarantine to prevent the infection of others. If you are in a heavily infected country, you may risk encountering COVID-19 infected patients at crowded treatment centers, therefore increasing your chances of exposure
  • Always follow the local health authorities’ guidance and instructions