Monday, June 22, 2020

Coronavirus: eNCA anchor Shahan Ramkissoon tests Covid-19 positive shortly after other 2 other Johannesburg-building staffers; will self-isolate along with rest of affected shift workers for 14 days.

by Thinus Ferreira

The eNCA (DStv 403) anchor Shahan Ramkissoon who started to feel ill last week has now tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, coming days after two staffers working mostly on the ground floor of eMedia Investments' Hyde Park building in Johannesburg had also tested positive.

Shahan Ramkissoon who will be off-air and self-isolating for 14 days is the latest high-profile South African TV news case diagnosed with Covid-19, following after the TV news operations of the SABC News (DStv 404), Newzroom Africa (DStv 405) and eNCA have been impacted by positive tests over the past few months.

At the SABC staffers in various provincial bureaus across South Africa tested positive after the SABC in late-March 2020 shuttered its office in the Northern Cape in April after reporter Ulrich Hendriks tested positive for Covid-19 who has since recovered.

In mid-May staffers at Newzroom Afrika's Cape Town bureau tested positive including reporter Athi Mtongana after the death of the eNCA and cameraman Lungile Thom in Cape Town who became South Africa's first journalist to die from Covid-19.

Earlier this month in an internal email told staffers that "two staff members, working mostly on the ground floor in the Johannesburg office have tested positive for Covid-19" and that the company "had as routine measure arranged from a deep-clean of the Johannesburg office". eMedia Investments didn't close down its Hyde Park building or headquarters.

Now anchor Shahan Ramkissoon has tested positive for Covid-19 and the studio on the ground floor has been shuttered.

In a statement eNCA says that the anchor started feeling ill last week and was advised to go for testing on Friday. "His results came back on Monday 22 June 2020. He will remain off-air and in self-isolation until the end of the stipulated 14-day period."

eNCA says that the anchor "is part of a team based in the channel's Johannesburg office isolation studio that was set up eight weeks ago as part of the broadcaster's disaster management plan. The studio was set up to help minimize risk and manage the number of staff members working in a single area, in accordance with Covid-19 protocols".

eNCA says that "the isolation studio is completely removed from the channel's main broadcast area, and its operations have not been impacted".

"All staff members on the affected shift, based in the isolation studio, have been sent home to self-isolate. The company is undertaking the necessary track and tracing process to identify potentially exposed staff members."

"In view of current developments, eNCA has initiated further measures to protect its employees, including the addition of separator screens inside the studios operating rooms."

On Monday evening in a live interview done through Skype on eNCA, Shahan Ramkissoon said that he has had flu-like symptoms for 11 days.

"I feel really bad because I feel like I might have infected people in the office and I feel a bit guilty for having done that. But then I think back - I went to the doctor when I showed signs of flu and the doctor ruled it out and I did the right thing in terms of approaching my sickness."

Shahan Ramkissoon said it's important not to stigmatise people with Covid-19 and that he is feeling anxious. "I don't know if things could take a turn for the worse in the next couple of days - that could happen. I do feel anxious - I'm not going to lie about that."