Latest reports of COVID-19 in Africa show that a number of journalists have died as a result of the pandemic on the continent.
Journalists are now being classified as front line workers and will receive priority vaccinations in some African countries.
South African online news publication, News 24 reported on Friday that three of the country’s journalists have died this week, due to COVID-19 complications.
News 24 named the journalists as SABC’s Moabi Litheko; eNCA’s former output editor, Celeste Phillips; and Primedia technical manager, Dan Maswanganye (pictured).
According to the report, Maswanganye, popularly referred to as Bra Dan, died in hospital on Tuesday night due to Covid-19 complications. He worked at Primedia Broadcasting for 37 years and is survived by his wife and children.
It said the SABC has also announced the death of bulletin writer for the Sesotho Television News Bulletin, Moabi Litheko, on Wednesday. He had been admitted to Flora Clinic for treatment for Covid-19 complications.
Phillips, formerly an output editor at eNCA, also died of Covid-19 complications on Wednesday and is survived by her husband and two young children.
South Africa’s National Editors’ Forum regrets the deaths of the journalists.
“Their [deaths are] truly unfortunate as it happened in the same week that the National Covid Command Centre agreed to get media houses registered so that journalists could be vaccinated within the next few days,” the editors’ forum said in a statement.
The covid-19 vaccination rollout to essential workers, besides those in the education sector, kicks off this month in South Africa. The police service and defense force are scheduled to receive vaccines next.
The government had informed the South African Editors’ Forum on Monday that journalists would be next in line to receive their vaccines.
“Journalists, as designated frontline workers, have risked their lives every day for the past 16 months, working throughout the pandemic as part of their responsibility to the public,” the editors’ forum also said.
In Liberia, a vaccination team from the Ministry of Health also visited the press union’s headquarters to administer the covid-19 vaccine to journalists. The team had earlier failed to turnout after it promised to do so last Friday.
Previously, a senior broadcaster working for ECOWAS Radio, formerly owned by the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL, Yede Allison reportedly died on covid complications. A virtual vigil was held in her honor on Thursday. It was organized by her former workmates at UNMIL Radio in collaboration with the Females Journalists of Liberia, FEJAL.
According to a report by Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the Swiss organization calling for priority vaccination of media workers, more than 600 journalists have died worldwide due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The statistics reveal, 602 journalists have died from Covid-19 since March 2020. At the time of the report earlier last month, Africa accounted for 28 of the total number of journalists who died of covid.
The real number of victims worldwide is certainly higher, according to PEC, because the cause of death of journalists is sometimes not specified or their death not announced. And in some countries, there is no reliable information.