By T Navajyoti
Geneva/ Guwahati: The Covid-19 pandemic has taken away the lives of over 600 journalists in 59 countries since March 2020 that implies the global media fraternity lost two scribes per day on average, said Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), an international media watchdog based in Switzerland.
“Of the 602 journalists who have died from Covid-19 complications since 1 March 2020, Latin America leads with more than half of the victims (303 deaths). Asia follows with 145 dead, ahead of Europe (94), North America (32) and Africa (28),” added the statement from PEC (www.pressemblem.ch).
It also deplores that many media warriors’ deaths could have been prevented. The forum emphasizes on financial assistance to the bereaved journo-families who died of Covid-19 aggravated ailments and demands that media workers should get the priority access to immunization upon request.
“Because of their profession, journalists who go into the field to testify are particularly exposed to the virus. Some of them, specially freelancers and photographers, can’t just work from home”, said PEC general secretary Blaise Lempen.
Peru remains the country with the heaviest death toll where 93 media workers died from the novel corona virus infection related ailments since March, Brazil follows with 55 deed and India emerges as the third victim nation with 53 journo-deaths.
Mexico reports 45 casualties followed by Ecuador (42), Bangladesh (41), Italy (37), the United States (31), etc. Pakistan lost 22 journalists to Covid-19 followed Turkey (17), Great Britain (13), Panama (11), Bolivia (9), Afghanistan, Dominican Republic, Nigeria & Russia (8 each), Argentina, Colombia & Honduras (7 each), Nicaragua, Spain & Venezuela (6 each), France (5), Nepal, Cameroon, Egypt, Guatemala, Iran, Salvador, South Africa & Zimbabwe (3), Algeria, Indonesia, Morocco, Paraguay, Portugal & Sweden (2 each), etc.
At least one death among the journalist fraternity of concerned countries were reported from Canada, Germany, Japan, Israel, Switzerland, Belgium, Uruguay, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq (Kurdistan), Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Tajikistan, Togo, etc.
The actual number of victims is certainly higher, as the cause of journalists’ deaths is sometimes not specified or their deaths not announced. In some countries, there is no reliable information, said Lempen adding that the origin of infection is often difficult to determine, and it is not possible to differentiate journalists who become infected at work places from those who got infected in private lives.
“Lately the Union government in New Delhi decided to offer supports to the journo-families, who are victim of Covid-19 complications, and started collecting applications to extend financial supports under the journalist welfare scheme,” said PEC’s India contributor Nava Thakuria adding that the Press Council of India has already urged New Delhi to recognize scribes, who died of Covid-19, as corona warriors and various media bodies continued demanding compensations to those families.