Nearly 2,000 Journalists have Died of COVID-19 in 94 Countries, Says Campaign

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Hedayat Abdel Nabi
PEC President

Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, has announced that nearly 2,000 journalists have died of COVID-19 in 94 countries since March 2020 when it began to document journalists killed by the virus. PEC’s records show that in 2021, at least 1,400 media workers died of the virus, an average of 116 media workers per month or four per day on average.

According to the report released on January 7, 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland, PEC said “no continent is spared by the pandemic. Of the 1,940 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.”

PEC said more than 50 casualties are still under investigation adding that the actual number of victims is certainly higher, as the cause of journalists’ deaths is sometimes not specified or their deaths are not announced. It noted that in some countries, there is no reliable information, stating the 2,000 figure is actually a low estimate.

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.

Blaise Lempen, PEC Secretary General, said: “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.”

In the second half of 2021, a total of 225 deaths were recorded, 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, the coronavirus killed 1,175 journalists.

The PEC expressed hope that the slowdown would continue in 2022, but is however worried 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 from the pandemic.

The report noted that: “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.”

It noted that in the United States of America at least 67 journalists died of COVID-19 and is followed by Italy with 61 deaths, 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.

Listing the countries that recorded death of journalists through COVID-19 infection, PEC named 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.

The PEC report says at least three journalists died of complications from COVID-19 in six countries: Albania, Azerbaijan, Costa Rica, Portugal, Salvador, and Sweden.

Another sets of two journalists each succumbed to the virus in 14 countries: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and Uganda.

In 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, at least one each died of the virus.

PEC said in the release that its tally is based on information from local media, national associations of journalists and regional PEC correspondents.