Latin America has lost nearly 1,000 journalists to the Covid-19 pandemic, with Brazil and Peru recording the highest number of deaths.
At least 280 media professionals died of the disease in Brazil, followed by Peru (198), Mexico (120), and Colombia (77), according to Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a European nonprofit.
The real number could be much higher, analysts say, pointing to the fact that government data on Covid-related deaths does not always include the profession of the deceased.
Unfortunately, journalist deaths increased dramatically in Brazil during the first quarter of this year, almost a year after the pandemic began wreaking havoc in the country.
Hundreds of journalists could have been saved had the governments in the region added media professionals to the priority groups for vaccination, says Latin American Journalism Review.
Despite the pandemic, many journalists continued to move around as usual, as they could not work from home. Since many of them could not afford to purchase expensive protective gear, they relied on homemade masks, noted the news journal.
The first journalist to succumb to the disease in the region was 61-years-old Lauro Freitas Filho, editor-in-chief of Monitor Mercantil, who passed away on March 28, 2020. Four days later, Peruvian Ricardo Gutiérrez Aparicio, a member of the Lima Journalists’ Association, died.
Around 25% of journalist deaths in Brazil occurred in the month of January this year.