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March 11, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:02am

Coronavirus: Times journalist tests positive while FT deep cleans after employee shows symptoms

By Freddy Mayhew and Charlotte Tobitt

A journalist at The Times has tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) and a Financial Times employee has developed symptoms of the disease.

Both incidents have resulted in deep cleaning taking place at the titles’ respective central London offices today.

Times owner News UK has said its staffer who tested positive today had not been in the London Bridge office (pictured) since Monday last week, adding that it is now tracing those who had contact with them.

A News UK spokesperson said: “An employee of The Times has today tested positive for COVID-19.

“This member of staff has not been in the office since Monday March 2nd and we are now in the process of contact tracing. The health and wellbeing of our staff is a priority and we have implemented ongoing and more frequent deep-cleaning.

“This is a private medical matter and we will not be identifying the employee. Our thoughts are with our colleague and we wish them a speedy recovery.”

A message to staff yesterday revealed an FT employee who visited its Bracken House office for a few days last week had since “developed symptoms of illness”, one of which is associated with coronavirus.

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According to the NHS, symptoms of coronavirus include a cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath.

The FT staffer is now self-isolating “due to their recent travel history” and arranging to be tested for Covid-19, although this may prove negative.

Press Gazette understands the floor of the building at Bracken House which was being deep cleaned today does not have journalists working on it. The FT returned to its historical City home in May last year.

So far there are 456 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, with eight Brits’ deaths connected to it.

Elsewhere in the UK, newsrooms are preparing to work from home and have banned all but essential travel in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Desks at Northcliffe House, home to the Daily Mail, Metro, Independent and Evening Standard titles, have been deep cleaned in recent weeks. Staff have also been advised against all but essential travel.

The Telegraph has told staff they can now work from home if they want to, with the newsdesk set to work from home on alternate days.

The decision has been taken “in anticipation of the virus getting worse” according to an email to staff.

However those running live blogs will still need to go into the office.

A Telegraph Media spokesperson said: “Like all companies, we are taking steps to safeguard the well-being of staff and minimise disruption to our business. We are reviewing business continuity measures.”

Staff at Sky News, the Independent and magazine titles Vogue and Wired are among those testing remote working capabilities this week.

The dry runs will test technology systems to ensure operations can continue away from the office in the event that everyone has to work from home.

The Independent and Standard have told staff to stay at home for seven days straight if they have even mild cold or flu symptoms.

They said the absence would be treated as sick leave “if during this time the symptoms turn into full blown cold or flu”.

Sky has shut down a contact centre in Cardiff after a staff member was diagnosed with Covid-19. The centre is being deep cleaned before re-opening tomorrow.

Staff at Sky’s Osterley campus in west London have been told to work from home tomorrow, although it is not expected to affect broadcasting output.

Picture: Press Gazette

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