The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Eswatini chapter) responded to the COVID-19 outbreak March 20, the aim of the workshop was meant at sensitising local media practitioners was held at the Hilton Garden Inn, Mbabane.
Even though, mandate has been the promotion freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The workshop came at a time when the world was grappling with the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus popularly known as COVID 19.
Speaking during the official opening of the workshop, National Governing Council Chairman Vusi Sibisi said even though they are campaigners of freedom of expression, it was equally important that they equip journalists with skills on how to report on the virus because issuing statements to clear journalists whenever there were violations.
“We all know that MISA has been defending and promoting freedom of expression and access to information and I applaud them for their swift action in organising this crucial workshop as the Coronavirus is spreading at an alarming rate in other countries,” said the Acting Minister of ICT Senator Manqoba Khumalo during the official opening.
He further stated the critical role played by journalists in the dissemination of accurate information in the wake of this deadly virus. It is important that media practitioners disseminate balanced, factual and credible information on the precautionary measures of the Covid-19.
A few presentations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) were on the overview of the Novel Corona-virus, the current status and countries preparedness and also the surveillance. During this presentation, media practitioners were challenged to make sure that they make everyone aware of the virus and that they communicate the risk and how people should protect themselves from the virus. That they should equip themselves by getting the accurate information, offer actionable solutions, use trusted voices and counter rumours.
Mostly emphasized was hand hygiene. How washing your hands protects you, your colleagues and your family. The editors were taught by T. Ndlovu from URC to:
- Wash your hands before preparing food
- Wash your hands after eating
- Wash your hands after using the toilet
- Wash your hands after cleaning or using gloves
- Wash your hands after blowing nose or coughing
Shongwe assured that all travellers at the points of entries pass through a thermal scanner; – hand-held/ mounted. Passengers presenting having body temperatures with over 38⁰C should be interviewed of their history of travel and are referred to the port health clinic or referred to 977 for follow up by Rapid Response Team (RRT). She said there was also the issuance of surveillance health forms meant at getting to more on traveller’s history, that was done by before immigration officials. She also mentioned that they analyse surveillance health forms for the traveller’s country of origin, and any transit to affected countries and signs and symptoms of diseases if any.
Other presentations were on risk communication and response mechanisation, head of the RRT Masitsela Mhlanga said they were ready to play their part during this hard time. This will be done through tracing, isolation, testing, treating then evacuating patients. They hope that anyone who suspects that they have the symptoms of the virus should call their toll-free line 977 or they should require medical attention at their nearest medical facility.
The Minister of Health, senator Lizzie Nkosi on her closure of the workshop urged journalist to publish information that comes from the Ministry of Health because any other information could be irrelevant. She also applauded media practitioners for playing their part during these trying times. She then announced that out 27 results were returned to the country and they were all negative. She however warned, it was still early for emaSwati to celebrate because country was still approaching the winter season.
Research has proved that the disease thrives well in cold places and it was for that reason it was prevalent in European since they were in the middle of their winter season. She called on the media to act responsibly through disseminating information that everyone should understand.
For more information about Corona Virus visit:
NCoV website https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
Disease Outbreak News https://www.who.int/csr/don/en/
WHO Travel Advice https://www.who.int/ith/en/