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More than 600 journalists died of COVID-19 in 10 months

More than 600 journalists died of COVID-19 in 59 countries over 10 months in 2020, the Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) said Tuesday.

According to the nongovernmental organization (NGO), around 60 members of the media died each month, equating to two known deaths a day on average around the world.

“Of the 602 journalists who have died from COVID-19 since March 1, Latin America led with more than half of the known victims or 303 deaths,” said the PEC.

Asia followed Latin America with 145 deaths, ahead of Europe which reported 94, North America with 32 and Africa with 28.

“Because of their profession, journalists who go into the field to testify are particularly exposed to the virus. Some of them, especially freelancers and photographers, can’t work from home,” said PEC Secretary-General Blaise Lempen.

The NGO strongly disapproves of the many preventable deaths and when necessary, supports requests for financial assistance from the families of journalists who passed away due to COVID-19.

The PEC also argues that those working in the media and covering the pandemic should be prioritized for vaccines on request.

Peru remains the country with the highest death toll, having lost 93 journalists to the virus since March, according to the Peruvian National Association of Journalists. Brazil comes second with 55 victims, ahead of India with 53 deaths and Mexico with 45. Ecuador follows with 42 deaths and Bangladesh with 41. Italy has lost the most journalists in Europe, reporting 37 deaths related to COVID-19.

The U.S. has lost 31 members of the press to the virus, followed by Pakistan with 22 fatalities, Turkey with 17, the U.K. 13, Panama 11 and nine deaths in Bolivia.

Afghanistan, the Dominican Republic, Nigeria and Russia each have eight victims, followed by Argentina, Colombia and Honduras with seven deaths in each country. In Nicaragua, Spain and Venezuela, six journalists died respectively, while in France, five COVID-19 deaths were announced. Three journalists died from COVID-19 in Cameroon, Egypt, Guatemala, Iran, Nepal, El Salvador, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Algeria, Indonesia, Morocco, Paraguay, Portugal and Sweden reported two deaths each.

The PEC identified at least one death in Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Uganda, Tajikistan, Togo and Uruguay.

In December, Brazil recorded the largest increase of more than 12 in one month, while Mexico reported a rise of 11.

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