More than 600 journalists have died of COVID-19 last year since 1 March, a press freedom organisation said, calling for media workers to have priority access to vaccines.
The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), which tracks the deaths of journalists around the world, said that of the 602 media workers known to have died from the new coronavirus, more than half were from Latin America, with 303 fatalities.
Some 145 deaths were recorded in Asia, with 94 in Europe, 32 in North America and 28 in Africa.
The PEC said it was not possible to differentiate journalists who had become infected whilst working, and their list also includes retired journalists.
The Geneva-based group said it believes journalists “should have priority access to immunisation upon request”.
“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 just work from home,” PEC secretary-general Blaise Lempen said in a statement.
The PEC tally is based on information from local media, national associations of journalists and regional PEC correspondents.
It said the actual number would be higher than 602 as the cause of journalists’ deaths is sometimes not specified, their deaths are not announced or there is no reliable local information.
Peru has the heaviest death toll at 93 journalists, followed by Brazil (55), India (53), Mexico (45), Ecuador (42), Bangladesh (41), Italy (37) and the United States (31).
The international non-profit organisation founded in 2004 supports requests for financial assistance from the families of journalists who have died from COVID-19.