Olusola Fabiyi and Friday Olokor
There is anxiety among members of staff of DAAR Communications, owners of RayPower FM and AIT television stations as they await results of more coronavirus tests conducted on some of them by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
The apprehension was as a result of the outcome of the tests conducted on some top management staff members of the organisations, whose results came out positive.
Founder of the organisation, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, his daughter-in-law and six other members of his family were on Friday tested positive for coronavirus.
Earlier, the son of the high chief and Chairman of the board of the company, Raymond Dokpesi Jnr, had tested positive for the virus.
On Friday, Dokpesi and the other affected family members were conveyed by the NCDC to the isolation centre at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, where his son is receiving treatment.
Before leaving, the media mogul, who spoke to journalists shortly after the arrival of the ambulance, said, “I am quite okay. I feel very well.”
However, some members of staff of the organisation said they were waiting for the outcome of tests conducted on them by the NCDC to know whether they had been infected or not.
One of them, who said he was also expecting the outcome of his test, said they hoped the results would be released on Sunday (today).
He said, “I can tell you that we actually do not know the extent to which we could have been affected. You know how newsrooms or media houses work. We all work as a team and also interact a lot.
“The NCDC has tested us for COVID-19. We are all patiently waiting for the results. Maybe they will come on Sunday. We pray that we do not have a lot of people that are infected.”
Another member of staff, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that the outcome of the tests would go a long way to douse the tension already generated as a result of the outcome of the already released results.
“We are actually not resting. Some of us are on self-isolation and we will remain like that until the results are released. That is the situation now. No one knows who has been infected or not,” she said.
The Executive Director (Corporate Affairs) in DAAR Communications Plc, Johnson Onime, confirmed to one of our correspondents that the workers were waiting for the outcome of the tests.
“Yes, it is true. We are expecting the results of the tests conducted on some (members of) staff. But I don’t know the number of staff members (whose tests are being awaited),” he said.
Asked if the staff members had been on self-isolation, he said everybody had been careful while some of them worked from home.
He also said that the affected workers who had contact with the founder and the chairman of the media organisation had been tested by NCDC.
“Yes, upon the discovery, the management, in its wisdom, invited NCDC to test some of our staff members who had contact with our chairman. It was done on Wednesday and Thursday,” Onime explained.
He, however, said the spirit of members of staff of the organisation remained high.
He nevertheless said it would be unfortunate if its workers would be subjected to stigmatisation because of the test which confirmed the positive status of its founder and chairman.
He said the company’s premises in Lagos and Abuja would be fumigated next (this) week.
Onime said, “Our spirit is high, that I must confess to you. But there is one thing going for us in that company; it is that love and bond among us. We are a team, the Federal Government has warned against stigmatisation.
“For us as an organisation, apart from the medical personnel who are the frontline workers and officers in the battle against COVID-19, media practitioners are all vulnerable. It is part of the occupational hazards.
“There is a concern. We are bothered. So, if our reporters go out for assignments and people now use it as a yardstick (for stigmatisation), it will be unfortunate. We are fulfilling our constitutional responsibility as a member of the Fourth Estate of the Realm. If that is the price we have to pay for our job, well, so be it.
“There is no apprehension, but there is concern among workers about the health of our founder and our chairman and members of his family. For somebody that you have worked with for over two decades and you’re told this has happened to him, of course, you must be bothered, also given the turn of events of COVID-19.
“(But) we thank God that the situation has improved. People go to isolation centres and come back healthier and better. Our wish is that they all come back healthier and better and even those who are not our staff members. We pray for everybody in this country and the world at large.”
While thanking Nigerians who showed concern about their plights, he said there were plans to fumigate the company’s premises.
Onime said, “The NCDC did it before. When our chairman tested positive, our management invited the NCDC to come and fumigate the premises.
“Even in Lagos, we did it about two weeks ago. We thank the Lagos State Government and Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area for that gesture. Our Abuja office was also fumigated. We are also told to do same in all our locations across the country.
“It is something we are to do on a continuous basis. We are even planning to carry out another round of fumigation next week.”