India is witnessing day one of the 21-day lockdown in place across the country, and newspapers and print media have been deemed as an essential service. The state governments and administration have been asked to take necessary measures to ensure the smooth functioning of media during the lockdown to combat the coronavirus outbreak. However, there have been concerns about whether newspapers can act as carriers and transmit the infection to subscribers.
However, this is untrue. The World Health Organisation has clearly stated that the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.
However, there is no harm in being careful. We can continue to take precautions, the way we have been in the past few weeks. And that basically means – wash your hands, or santitise them, after you finish reading the paper. And don’t touch your face while reading.
WHO says that it is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
Thus, if you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
On Monday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had written to the states and union territories asking them to ensure operational continuity of print and electronic media in the current situation.
"At this critical juncture, ensuring uninterrupted operation of printing Press, facilitation of functioning of media persons and continuity of distribution infrastructure of newspapers and magazines is vital," the PCI statement said.
It is essential that the media houses be facilitated with the required support/assistance for continued dissemination of appropriate information not only to create awareness amongst people but also for keeping the nation updated of the latest status related to the COVID-19 outbreak, it added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a complete lockdown across the country for 21 days from Tuesday midnight, asserting that social distancing is the only way out for the country in its battle against the coronavirus.
(With PTI inputs)