Mads Nissen’s The First Embrace was adjudged the World Press Photo of the Year. The striking image, taken during the peak of the pandemic in August 2020 shows two people embracing each other. While the picture from its description may sound ordinary, the story behind it is overwhelming.
The image is of eighty-five year old Rosa Luzia Lunardi, an elderly person staying at the Viva Bem care home being embraced by nurse Adriana Silva da Costa Souza in Sao Paulo, Brazil. So, what is so extraordinary about a hug? This was the first hug Rosa had received in five months. In March, care homes across the country remained shut for 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.
Nissen said about his image: "To me, this is a story about hope and love in the most difficult times. When I learned about the crisis that was unfolding in Brazil and the poor leadership of president Bolsonaro who has been neglecting this virus from the very beginning, who's been calling it 'a small flu', I really felt an urge to do something about it."The full list of winners across categories and the nominees can be read here.