By Nava Thakuria*
Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the global media safety and rights body, today mourned the death of two senior journalists who died of Covid-19 complications in China recently. According to a report by news agency Reuters with the dateline of Beijing/Shanghai on December 16, 2022, Yang Lianghua (74, a former People’s Daily reporter) died on Thursday, while Zhou Zhichun (77, a former China Youth Daily editor) died a week earlier. These are the first deaths reported in China among journalists since the beginning of the pandemic three years ago.
Both the Chinese media personnel lost the Corona battles in Beijing along with many who died after the Communist regime abandoned its strict corona policy on lockdowns. However, the country’s national health authority has not revealed any death due to Covid-19 aggravated ailments since the domestic epidemic control policies were abandoned on December 7, 2022, due to unprecedented public protests against President Xi Jinping.
Concerns are expressed as the Lunar New Year holidays are starting on January 22, 2023, when rural areas would be inundated by travellers. Otherwise, those villages and towns were not exposed to the virus in the last three years.
Until March 2022, at least 2000 media workers or former journalists died with Covid-19 in 95 countries around the world, said Blaise Lempen, president of PEC, adding that around one hundred other writer-journalists have died of the novel coronavirus around the world since then. PEC started the Corona-ticker in March 2020 to pay tribute to the media Corona victims.
Until March 2022, PEC recorded 30 most affected countries as Brazil (314 media corona-casualties), India (284), Peru (199), Mexico (129), Colombia (80), USA (70), Bangladesh (69), Italy (61), Venezuela (60), Ecuador (52), Argentina (50), Indonesia (43), Russia (42), Iran (35), United Kingdom (33), Dominican Republic (31), Turkey (30), Pakistan (27), Egypt, Nepal (23 each), Bolivia (21), Honduras (20), South Africa, Spain, Ukraine (19 each), Panama (17), Poland (14), France, Guatemala, Nigeria (11 each).
These were followed by Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe (10 each), Algeria, Cuba, Paraguay (9 each), Philippines (8), Uruguay (7), Kazakhstan, Kenya, Romania (5 each), Morocco, Cameroon, Iraq (4 each), Albania, Azerbaijan, Costa Rica, Portugal, Salvador, Sweden (3 each), Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Uganda (2 each).
Single journo-victim was reported from Angola, Barbados, Bosnia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kirghizstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, Togo, Tajikistan, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen.
*Senior journalist and PEC’s South Asia representative