Indonesia: Media houses and sources should take COVID-19 safety precautions

Dozens of journalists in Jakarta and Bogor, West Java are under observation after being in contact with sources who have tested positive for COVID-19. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), to call on media companies, sources and government institutions to follow protocols to ensure the safety and wellbeing of journalists during the global pandemic.

Indonesian medical staff prepare a room for patients at the 2018 Asian Games athlete's village which was converted into a hospital for COVID-19 patients in Jakarta on March 23, 2020. Credit:Hafidz Mubarak/AFP

Journalists who covered the press conference of Bima Arya, the Mayor of Bogor, at his residence on March 16, are under observation after Arya was diagnosed with COVID-19. Arya had returned from a business trip to Azerbaijan and Turkey on March 15 and reportedly had a fever on his arrival in Indonesia. During the press conference Arya failed to take precautions, including wearing a surgical mask. He was tested on March 17 and on March 19 the tests confirmed that Arya had contracted COVID-19.

In another case, the Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi tested positive to COVID-19 on March 14. Journalists who were in contact with Sumadi were also under observation, with some showing flu-like symptoms.

In a statement, AJI has warned media organisations and sources from various institutions to reduce the number of the face-to-face press conferences and interviews and replace them with online interviews. Journalists covering the COVID-19 pandemic are also advised to follow safety protocols, including keeping a safe distance from sources and washing their hands regularly.

“AJI calls on media companies to develop safety guidelines and provide journalists with health products, such as hand sanitisers, to protect them while in the field and in their office,” AJI added.

The IFJ said: “Continuing to inform the public in the current health crisis can only be achieved if the safety and wellbeing of journalists is protected. IFJ urge media companies, sources and the general public to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of journalists.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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