Friday, March 27, 2020

Coronavirus: SABC News journalist Ulrich Hendriks tests positive for Covid-19 in Kimberley as public broadcaster shutters Northern Cape office and quarantines staffers.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC News journalist Ulrich Hendriks based in Kimberley has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus as cases of the novel coronavirus spreads in South Africa, with the South African public broadcaster that has shuttered its office in the Northern Cape province with the rest of staffers now working from home.

Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson, confirmed the broadcaster's first positive Covid-19 case and said staffers will be quarantined. "The SABC can confirm that we have one confirmed case of coronavirus at our Northern Cape provincial office," said Mmoni Seapolelo.

"As a precautionary measure, we will close the Kimberley office and all employees based in that office will also be quarantined. The employee concerned is under quarantine and will be monitored".

Phathiswa Magopeni, SABC News editor-in-chief, says the SABC is in contact with Ulrich Hendriks who is recovering at home.

"We know that he came into contact with two German tourists. Given the close proximity of our news staff in the newsroom - 25 colleagues in the Kimberley office – we decided, as a precautionary measure, to close the office and have all staff quarantined and tested. We are developing contingency plans for the operations there."

"As the SABC, since the start of the disaster, we have taken critical precautionary measures to safe-guard all our staff - with masks and other protective gear and items. But clearly given this scenario it calls for journalists to be extra careful," says Phathiswa Magopeni.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) says in a statement on Friday that it "stands in solidarity with our colleagues at the SABC after one of their journalists tested positive for the Covid-19 virus in the Kimberley office in the Northern Cape".

"SANEF understands that the public broadcaster took immediate precautionary steps yesterday and shut down its operations in the region. All staff are working from home."

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