Robert Anane, GNA
Accra, March 15, GNA - The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), has urged the media to report responsibly on the Coronavirus (COVID-19), in order not to create unnecessary panic.
"With six cases of the virus recorded in Ghana, the GJA believes the media has a duty to provide citizens with accurate information and avoid sensationalism that could lead to general panic and fear.
A release signed by Mrs Linda Asante Agyei, Vice President of the GJA and copied to the Ghana News Agency, reminded the media that the public heavily relied on news reports in times like this for information on what precautionary measures to take, adding, "we cannot fail them."
It advised journalists to use trustworthy sources for their reportage and avoid speculations, and called on public authorities and medical institutions to provide timely and accurate information to journalists when they call on them.
The release said fear-induced vocabulary that could create a state of alarm should be avoided, and urged all journalists to uphold the privacy of affected people to avoid stigmatization of close relatives.
"As the World Health Organisation describes COVID-19 as a pandemic, the GJA urges journalists to adhere strictly to the Code of Ethics of the Association, which provides the best antidote for misinformation, fake news and conspiracy theories that have thronged social media outlets," said the release.
The GJA reiterates that journalists’ responsibility towards the public must take precedence over any other consideration, the release said.
It urged the media to increase public awareness of the situation through reporting that educates, warns and informs properly on the virus, adding that by so doing, they would be part of the solution.
It further urged journalists to take precautionary measures of safety, while working to provide the public information.
"To the general public, let us continue to follow the basic wellness practices, which include washing of hands with soap under running water for, at least, 20 seconds, avoiding touching of eyes, nose and mouth, avoiding close contact with sick people, and covering of nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing," the release said.
It said in order to ensure success in these precautionary measures, the appropriate authorities must ensure that there is availability of water for hand-washing and litter bins placed at vantage points for easy disposal of tissues used to cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing since the lack of these things may seriously impair the fight against COVID-19.
"The GJA commends government for the stringent health screening measures put in place at the various ports of entry, and for committing one hundred million dollars to contain the pandemic," the release said.GNA