Picture of coronavirus hug called World Press Photo of the Year

A photo that symbolizes “love and compassion” of an 85-year-old Brazilian woman who receives her first embrace in five months from a nurse through a transparent “hug curtain” was named Thursday’s press photo of the year.

The choice of a winning photo showing the global pandemic was almost inevitable for the competition, which covered a year when news around the world was dominated by the virus that has killed nearly 3 million people, including more than 360,000 in hard-hit Brazil.

The image of the Danish photographer Mads Nissen captured the moment Rosa Luzia Lunardi was hugged by nurse Adriana Silva da Costa Souza at Viva Bem nursing home in Sao Paulo on 5 August.

A curtain of clear plastic – its yellow edges folded in a shape resembling a pair of butterfly wings – provides protection, as does the nurse’s face mask.

“This iconic image of Covid-19 remembers the most extraordinary moment of our lives, anywhere,” said jury member Kevin WY Lee. “I read vulnerability, loved ones, loss and separation, death, but, more importantly, survival as well – everything rolled to a graphic image. If you look at the image long enough, you will see wings: a symbol of flight and hope. ”

The photo that Nissen took for the Panos Pictures agency and the Danish daily newspaper Politiken also won first prize in the prestigious competition General News Singles category.

“The main message of this image is empathy. It is love and compassion, says Nissen in a comment released by the competition organizers.

“It’s a really, really tough, gloomy situation and then in that horror, in the suffering, I think this picture also sheds some light,” Nissen said at an online awards ceremony after being told he had won the award. and 5,000 euros. ($ 6000) price included.

Second in the category was a much gloomier Covid-19 image – the body of a suspected coronavirus victim tightly wrapped in plastic at a hospital in Indonesia on April 18 by Indonesian photographer Joshua Irwandi.

The pandemic even reached the Environment Singles category, where American photographer Ralph Pace won for his image of a curious California sea lion swimming against a face mask floating underwater at the Breakwater dive site in Monterey.

Judges looked at 74,470 photographs of 4,315 photographers before selecting winners in eight categories including general news, sports, the environment and portraits.

This year’s World Press Photo Story of the Year was awarded to Italian documentary photographer Antonio Faccilongo, who works for Getty Reportage, for a series entitled “Habibi” about Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons smuggling their semen from detention facilities in hopes of raising a family.

The winner in the Spot News Singles category was a picture that embodies the debate about race in the United States. The picture by Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post shows a white man and a black woman who do not agree with the removal of the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, DC, which shows a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln’s feet.

The Black Lives Matter movement was also presented, with Associated Press photographer John Minchillo’s series on the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd taking third place in the Spot News Stories category, won by Italian Lorenzo Tugnoli who worked for Contrasto for a series of images documenting devastating harbor blasting in Beirut.

The category Contemporary Issues Story won the Russian photographer Alexey Vasilyev with a series about the film industry in the northeastern Russian region of Sakha. Associated Press photographer Maya Alleruzzo took second place in the category with a story about the Islamic State group that enslaved Yazidi women in Iraq.