2021 Photo Contest, World Press Photo of the Year Nominee

The First Embrace

Photographer

Mads Nissen

Politiken/Panos Pictures

05 August, 2020

Rosa Luzia Lunardi (85) is embraced by nurse Adriana Silva da Costa Souza, at Viva Bem care home, São Paulo, Brazil. 

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. The new coronavirus had first appeared in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019, and by January 2020 had begun to spread around the world. On 11 March, the World Health Organisation declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The disease—transmitted mainly via close contact, respiratory droplets, and aerosols—could be fatal, and people over the age of 70 were one of the groups considered most vulnerable to the disease. Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, dismissed claims about the severity of the pandemic and the danger posed by the virus, undermined quarantine measures adopted at state level, and encouraged Brazilians to continue working to keep the economy afloat. 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.

About the photographer

Mads Nissen

Mads Nissen (1979) is a photographer based in Copenhagen, Denmark. For Nissen photography is all about empathy - creating understanding, a closeness and intimacy. He strives t...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
1/1600
Focal length
50mm
F-Stop
5.6
ISO
200
Camera
Canon EOS 5D Mark III

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