Vaccine production is limited and it is available for the wealthiest countries, preventing access to journalists in South Asia, says the Press Emblem Campaign
More than 1,200 journalists have died from Covid-19 across the world since March last year, according to the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC).
“Journalists are engaged in a profession which is particularly exposed to the virus as many have been forced to continue working in contact with the population,” it said in a statement on Friday ahead of the World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
The PEC said it has counted more than 1,200 journalists in 75 countries who died from Covid-19 complications between March 2020 and April 29 this year.
It called governments to take action to help the media most affected and to support the families of the victims.
"This is an unprecedented slaughter and a great loss for the profession," PEC Secretary-General Blaise Lempen was quoted saying..
“On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, we call for honouring eminent colleagues of all ages who have not survived the pandemic,” he added.
The PEC also considers there is a need to distribute vaccines equally all over the world, to stop the spread of the virus and its new strains in developing countries.
“Vaccine production is limited and it is available for the wealthiest countries, preventing access to journalists in South America and South Asia. As long as this situation continues, deaths will keep on increasing,” reads the statement.
Heartbreaking situation in India
The rate of deceased journalists accelerated further in April this year with the deaths of 125 journalists in one month or more than four per day.
“The deaths of dozens of Indian journalists, often still in full swing, is particularly heartbreaking,” Lempen was quoted in the statement.
The situation is particularly alarming in India: in the past two weeks, at least 50 journalists have succumbed to the virus, on average 3 to 5 every day, according to PEC.
The number of journalists’ deaths has slowed sharply in Europe and North America, thanks to effective protection measures and the progress of vaccination, it said.
However, since March 2020, four countries have been particularly affected with more than one hundred journalists dead in each country: Brazil with more than 183 journalists deceased from Covid-19, Peru with 140, India with 121 and Mexico with 106, says the PEC statement.
By region, Latin America tops the list with more than half of the victims, 673 in 20 countries. Asia follows with 254 in 18 countries, then Europe with 175 in 19 countries. Africa comes next with 56 dead in 16 countries, ahead of North America with 47 in 2 countries.
The total number of victims is certainly higher, because the cause of death of journalists is sometimes not specified or their death not announced, PEC said.