Nearly 2,000 journalists have died of COVID-19 in 94 countries since March, 2020. In 2021, at least 1,400 media workers succumbed to the coronavirus (COVID-19); which means 116 of them died per month or four per day on the average, the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) announced yesterday in Geneva, Switzerland.
“No continent is spared by the pandemic. Of the 1940 journalists dead registered by the PEC since March 1, 2020, Latin America leads with half of the victims, or 954 deaths. Asia follows with 556 dead, ahead of Europe with 263, then Africa 98 and North America 69.
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“More than 50 casualties are still under investigation. The actual number of victims is certainly higher, as the cause of journalists’ deaths is sometimes not specified or their death not announced. In some countries, there is no reliable information. The 2,000 figure is a low estimate,” PEC said in a press release.
According to PEC India Representative, Nava Thakuria, the vast South Asian country might have lost over 400 media workers to the pandemic, but a hundred of them had yet to be authenticated.
“After a spike in deadly infections in the first half of 2021, the death toll thankfully slowed in the second half thanks to advances in vaccination,” said PEC Secretary General, Blaise Lempen.
For the second half of 2021, 225 deaths were registered, with an increase in Europe, and a sharp decrease in Latin America and Asia (in December 25 journalists died, in November 28, in October 27, in September 33, in August 42 and in July 70). In the first half of 2021, 1,175 journalists were killed by the virus.
The PEC expressed hope that the slowdown would continue in 2022, but expressed worry by the high number of infections caused by the Omicron variant.
It called on all media workers to take the necessary precautions, including the booster vaccine.
The organisation listed Brazil, India and Peru as countries with the heaviest death tolls.
“Since March, 2020, Brazil is the country with the heaviest death toll with 295 media workers who died from the virus. India is second with at least 279 victims, ahead of Peru 199, then Mexico 122, Colombia 79, Bangladesh 68.
“In the United States of America at least 67 journalists died of COVID-19. Italy is the first European country with 61 deaths, followed by Venezuela 59, Ecuador 51, Argentina 46, Indonesia 42, Russia 42, Iran 34, United Kingdom 33, Turkey 29, Dominican Republic 29, Pakistan 27, Nepal 23, Egypt 22, Bolivia 20, Honduras 19, South Africa 19, Spain 19 and Ukraine 19.
“Next are Panama 17, Poland 14, France 11, Guatemala 11, Nigeria 11, Afghanistan 10, Nicaragua 10, Zimbabwe 10, Algeria 9, Cuba 9, Paraguay 8, Philippines 7, Uruguay 7, Kazakhstan 5, Kenya 5, Romania 5, Morocco 4, Cameroon 4, Iraq 4.
“At least three journalists died of complications from COVID-19 in six countries: Albania, Azerbaijan, Costa Rica, Portugal, Salvador, and Sweden.
“Two victims were registered in 14 countries: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and Uganda.
“At least one each in 30 countries: Angola, Barbados, Bosnia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kirghizstan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, Togo, Tajikistan, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen.
“The PEC tally is based on information from local media, national associations of journalists and regional PEC correspondents,” PEC said in the release.