'55 journalists died of COVID-19 in 23 countries between March and April'

The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has revealed that no fewer than 55 journalists across 23 countries have died of COVID-19 infection between March and April 2020.

As the world marks another World Press Day, the Nigeria Guild of Editor (NGE) has congratulated journalists and media practitioners across the world, especially those in the frontline covering the COVID-19 pandemic.

NGE in a statement by its President and Social and Publicity Secretary,  Mustapha Isah and Ken Ugbechie, respectively. urged media owners to provide special protective equipment for these journalists, in order for them not to be infected.

It said: “Journalists across the world have had to face daunting challenges and dangers in the discharge of their duties with some having to pay the supreme price, while others have been harassed and jailed.

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“For instance, the Press Emblem Campaign, PEC, a non-governmental organisation, says 55 journalists across 23 countries have died from COVID-19 infection between March and April 2020.

”This is aside the six journalists killed by state actors this year alone across the globe, and about 250 more languishings in different prisons and detention centres. The body of editors, therefore, demands the immediate release of all detained journalists in Nigeria and all over the world.

“While we commiserate with the families and friends of our departed colleagues, the Guild urges all journalists to abide by the basic protocol of the World Health Organisation (WHO), namely: maintaining physical distancing, washing of hands regularly, wearing of masks, among others. In addition to observing these protocols, the Guild urges journalists to use their various media platforms to enlighten the public on the need to observe these protocols and any other precautionary measures.

”The Guild aligns with the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in calling on journalists to act professionally as ‘antidote’ to the pandemic of misinformation and fake news, bordering on harmful health advice and conspiracy theories surrounding the COVID-19 crisis.

”The NGE insists that, as journalists, we must not at any time abuse the right to press freedom to disseminate false and unverified stories on COVID-19 pandemic or any other subject matter.”

Vanguard

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