At least 602 journalists died of COVID-19 around the world in ten months last year — 60 per month or two per day on average since March 1, 2020, the Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) said on Tuesday.

The organization said in a press release that these deaths could have been prevented and people working in news media should have priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine while the families of the deceased should receive financial assistance.

PEC Secretary General Blaise Lempen emphasized that many media professionals such as field reporters, freelancers and photographers, cannot work from home, which makes them “particularly exposed to the virus.”

According to the PEC, Latin American countries had more than half of the death toll (303). Peru reported 93 deaths, followed on the continent by Brazil (55) and Ecuador (42). Other countries reporting significant numbers of coronavirus-related deaths included India (53), Mexico (45), Bangladesh (41), Italy (37) and the United States (31).

The PEC said that its figures are based on diverse sources, and thus it may have underestimated the actual number of journalists who died of COVID-19, as many of these deaths may not have been reported.

The PEC, founded in 2004, aims at improving the safety of journalists across the world, especially “in zones of conflict and civil unrest or in dangerous missions,” its website says.

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