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Vaccinate journalists on priority, Editors Guild urges government as Covid death toll rises

India saw its highest single-day rise of 4 lakh Covid2019 infections on Saturday

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New Delhi:  As the country battles the deadliest wave of Covid2019, with a record four lakh positive cases recorded in the last 24 hours, the challenges faced by journalists and media organizations continue to intensify. Over 52 journalists from various parts of the country lost their lives due to Covid2019 in April alone.

As India opened the vaccination drive for all adults (18-45 years), here on Saturday, the Editors Guild of India (ECI) urged the government yet again to consider journalists as frontline workers and ensure they are vaccinated on priority.

"The Guild is extremely distressed that the central government has not yet taken any steps to hasten the vaccination of journalists over the last few months. Many of them (who succumbed to Covid2019) were freelancers and hence, were not insured. Others who worked for media organizations did not enjoy the assurance and comfort of being insured by their companies," it stated.

The Guild condoled the death of journalists due to Covid2019 in the past year. According to the Delhi-based Institute of Perception Studies, more than 100 journalists have died since 1 April 2020. "Many of them were reporting on the worsening pandemic and bringing to fore stories of the great human tragedy that has been unfolding before us," said ECI. "The Guild pays homage to the fortitude and commitment to work that these journalists have displayed over the past year."

ECI had earlier demanded that journalists be considered as frontline workers and vaccinated on priority.  "Despite the support of various state governments and media organizations, the central government has not responded to this request," it asserted while highlighting that that issue of shortage of vaccines has now hit Phase-3 of vaccination drive. It also urged the media organizations to ensure the safety of their journalists.

On Saturday, two more journalists, Assam Tribune’s Delhi correspondent, Kalyan Barooah and his wife and senior journalist Nilakshi Bhattacharyya succumbed to Covid19.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Press Club also urged the government to consider journalists as frontline workers. "It's urgent, all lives matter," it appealed to the government on Saturday

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