1st Prize Singles, General News - World Press Photo of the Year

05 August 2020

Mads Nissen, Denmark

Politiken/Panos Pictures

The First Embrace

Rosa Luzia Lunardi (85) is embraced by nurse Adriana Silva da Costa Souza, at Viva Bem care home, São Paulo, Brazil, on 5 August. This was the first hug Rosa had received in five months. In March, care homes across the country had closed their doors to all visitors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing millions of Brazilians from visiting their elderly relatives. Carers were ordered to keep physical contact with the vulnerable to an absolute minimum. At Viva Bem, a simple invention, ‘The Hug Curtain', allowed people to hug each other once again. Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, dismissed claims about the severity of the pandemic and the danger posed by the virus. Brazil ended 2020 with one of the worst records globally in dealing with the virus, with some 7.7 million reported cases and 195,000 deaths.

I value work that has many doors that different audiences can open, and so engage in a variety of conversations. This iconic image of COVID-19 memorializes the most extraordinary moment of our lives, everywhere. I read vulnerability, loved ones, loss and separation, demise, but, importantly, also survival—all rolled into one graphic image. If you look at the image long enough, you'll see wings: a symbol of flight and hope.

Kevin WY Lee, General Jury member

I see this photo as one of the rare positive photos about the COVID-19 era. It is a symbolic scene, conveying the effort frontliners made, and the hardship they experienced. The photographer had to be there in the right place at the right moment.

Ahmed Najm, General Jury member

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