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UN: Press is Essential ‘Antidote’ to Pandemic Misinformation

In this handout image released by the United Nations, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres holds a virtual press conference on April 3, 2020, at U.N. headquarters in New York.

Marking World Press Freedom Day, the United Nations Secretary-General called on governments around the world Sunday to guarantee that journalists can safely do their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the pandemic spreads, it has also given rise to a second pandemic of misinformation, from harmful health advice to wild conspiracy theories. The press provides the antidote: verified, scientific, fact-based news and analysis,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message Sunday. “But since the pandemic began, many journalists are being subjected to increased restrictions and punishments simply for doing their jobs.”

The U.N. acknowledged the need to limit travel to beat the virus but said that the constraints “must not be abused” to keep journalists from doing their work.

At least 55 media workers in 23 countries have died since March 1 because of the pandemic, according to the Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign.

VOA has been tracking COVID-19-linked censorship and press freedom violations.

World Press Freedom Day is spearheaded by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has declared this year's motto "Journalism without Fear or Favor."