Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405) staff in Cape Town have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and quarantined at home.
The tv channel’s cases underscore how vulnerable South Africa’s media workers and reporters are as they continue to try and cover the debilitating impact of the unfolding humanitarian, health, economic and societal tragedy as the novel coronavirus spreads in the country and across Africa.
The latest development comes days after the death of eNCA cameraperson Lungile Tom (45) on Wednesday.
Following his death, the eMedia Investments’ Cape Town office was shut for a deep-clean and more than 70 staff members sent home for self-isolation and 14-days quarantine.
Tom is the first South African journalist to die of Covid-19, after SABC News reporter Ulrich Hendriks, based in Kimberley, recovered in April after testing positive for the virus. This led to the SABC closing its office in the Northern Cape province.
Newzroom Afrika reporter Athi Mtongana revealed on Twitter on Saturday that she tested positive for Covid-19 and shared a Bible-verse, referencing Isaiah 53: “My results have come back positive. I will recover, no Corona virus formed against us shall prosper. Isaiah 53 ‘by Christ’s wounds we are healed’.”
Head of marketing at Newzroom Afrika Zama Gabela confirmed that the Cape Town team had been infected with Covid-19.
“From the moment we found out, we implemented the deep cleaning part of our health and safety plan, which we had put together right from the onset of the pandemic. The building was evacuated for a deep clean and everyone is under self-isolation and quarantine at home.”Contact tracing from our side has also taken place in order to make sure that we react responsibly for all those who came into contact with our colleagues,” she said.
Newzroom Afrika recently celebrated its first anniversary.
The channel was commissioned by MultiChoice in 2019 – the co-founders are Thabile Ngwato and Thokozani Nkosi – and went on air on 2 May, 2019.