Around 20 deaths have so far been reported from Peru’s media fraternity ever since the COVID-19 outbreak touched the Andean country. The numbers point to a rather distressing concern: reporters and photographers operating without protective gear while working from points of contagion.

Peru reportedly has the second-largest number of deaths in Latin America -- over 170,000 cases and 4,600 deaths.

Scores of journalists continue to recuperate from the highly contagious virus. Six COVID-related deaths were confirmed in Peru’s hard-hit Amazon city of Iquitos, while four deaths have been recorded in the capital Lima, along with several others on the country’s northern coast -- pegged as an epicenter for the novel coronavirus. Dozens of journalists are reportedly recovering from the virus.

Lack of adequate finances, wage cuts, and mass layoffs are some of the reasons that have led to a climb in the deaths of media persons. “Many journalists in Latin America lack the basic protective equipment necessary to keep themselves and their sources safe while reporting,” said Natalie Southwick, the CPJ’s South America program coordinator, as per a media report.  

“Journalists are a vital source of reliable information in this moment of crisis, but they should not have to risk their lives on a daily basis to keep their fellow citizens informed,” she added.

As more dismissals push journalists to freelance, there’s an increased possibility of contracting the virus while going the extra mile to get more inputs. A volley of media houses, including Peru’s public television and radio broadcaster, requested senior journalists above the age of 60 to work from home. Yet, several correspondents chose to go to the field and do their jobs well -- in spite of the danger lurking in the backdrop.

The Committee to Protect Journalists maintained that further investigation was underway to track cases of journalists who contracted COVID-19 and died. However, the challenge was to figure out how many of them had become infected while working.

The working conditions of correspondents aren’t any better in other countries. Taking a rough estimate, at least 127 journalists from 31 countries have died as a result of the global health crisis, as per the stats shared by the Swiss NGO the Press Emblem Club.

Coronavirus The new program provides support to the National Urban League, UnidosUS and local nonprofits nationwide to help address rates of infection, joblessness, and the dearth of vital resources needed in Black and Latino U.S. communities disproportionately afflicted by COVID-19. Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash