Television

Network18’s initiatives to curb the spread of Covid2019 among employees

Strict work protocols and effective sanitisation efforts were undertaken.

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MUMBAI: News outlets have been relentlessly covering the Covid2019 pandemic outbreak in India. A cursory glance at any channel would show reporters taking precautions such as wearing masks, gloves and maintaining distance from others. Despite all the precautions, Network18, which houses a bunch of national and regional news channels under the TV18 umbrella, was one of the media companies that found some employees to have tested positive for Covid2019. It swung into action immediately through the systematic intervention and timely assistance of various departments, primarily the HR.

Over the past two months, the media organisation tested more than 700 colleagues and their immediate families. From among the more than 7000 employees across the length and breadth of India, only 16 colleagues have tested positive. Every positive case has been followed up with meticulous contact-tracing. The company said that where possible, it cared for all those who have tested positive and their families at Reliance’s facilities.

“Sixteen have tested positive, but in the circumstances, it is an extraordinary statistic and a testament to all our efforts. Most of them have recovered and many are asymptomatic. We have tested most colleagues at Reliance facilities and treated them and their families at RIL's hospitals,” said a Network18 spokesperson.

The media company, owned by Reliance Industries, adopted the ‘safety first’ mantra from day one. Because of the strict work protocols the broadcaster put in place, the infection did not spread. “Protection of our colleagues is at the heart of our strategy. Ratings may have suffered in some weeks for some channels, but we know our priorities. There can be no compromise on the safety of our people,” stated the firm.

The Covid tracker application, an early innovation from Reliance, has been keeping a close eye on symptoms. If there is the slightest hint that someone is unwell with signs of the virus, Reliance doctors take charge. “They have been on call for any emergency and continue to provide consultation. This has helped in tracing a few colleagues early on, which has helped in early isolation and treatment," informed the company.

Some key initiatives it took to reassure colleagues of its preparedness and planning:

1. Except those at the frontlines of TV news broadcasts, all others are working from home. Arrangements have been made for those working from home to do so as if it were business-as-usual.

2. Teams are working in batches that don’t come in contact with each other. Employees also take turns working alternate weeks. Although this has meant that the organisation is operating with much smaller teams than its regular strength, this practice has the merit of safety.

3. All employees are equipped with masks, gloves, sanitisers and immunity-boosting vitamin pills. Many reporters in the frontlines are armed with PPE suits. Every square-inch of the facilities is disinfected with anti-viral treatment and cleaned daily and deep-cleaning takes place several times a week. All mass-contact surfaces are cleaned with disinfectants many times daily.

4. Reporters and camerapersons never enter the news floor, or indeed the office premises. All outdoor equipment is disinfected daily, and so are cabs. Reporters and camera teams are being equipped with protective kits.

Several employees wrote testimonials for the company after they recovered. One recovered person, who works with tech ops in Mumbai, wrote: “Please accept my deepest gratitude for your support in that difficult time. Your support has been invaluable to me and I could not imagine how I would be able to survive in those critical days without your help. I remember Sanjeev sir's effective steps helped me to get admitted in the hospital quickly when my test result came positive. Organisation also arranged a medical check-up and sample collection for my family at home on the same day and sent necessary medicines to them. This effort was speechless. I would like to take special moments to thank all the HR team, Teleport team, Reliance hospital team and last but not least Reliance family for being with me and my family in those days.”

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