An “iconic” image of COVID-19 World Press Photo of the year

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A Danish photographer won the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year 2021 on Thursday, for an image of an elderly lady hugging a nurse protected from COVID-19 by plastic in Brazil, a symbol of “hope” in the eyes of the jurors .

The snap of Mads Nissen, winner of the main award in the World Press Photo photojournalism competition, immortalizes the first embrace in five months of an 85-year-old resident at a Sao Paulo nursing home in August 2020.

Long isolated because of the coronavirus pandemic, she was finally able to hug a nurse thanks to a plastic device.

“This iconic image of COVID-19 commemorates the most extraordinary moment of our lives, everywhere,” said Kevin WY Lee, member of the jury, quoted in a statement.

For the latter, the photo, which shows both “vulnerability, separation and survival”, is also a symbol of “hope”.

“For me, it’s a story of hope and love in the most difficult times”, underlines its author Mads Nissen, photographer for the Danish daily Politiken, who also won the first prize in the category “General information, image only ”thanks to the cliché.

Based in Copenhagen, he had already won the World Press Photo of the Year in 2015 for the image of a gay couple in Russia.

The winning series for Photo Report of the Year (“World Press Photo Story of the Year”), a major new award introduced in 2019, chronicles love stories impacted by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by Italian photographer Antonio Faccilongo for Getty Reportage.

Ernesto Benavides, a freelance photographer working for Agence France-Presse (AFP) based in Lima, won second prize in the “News snapshots, reports” category for a series of images taken during demonstrations against the dismissal of former Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra in November.

More than 74,000 images had been submitted by some 4,300 photographers around the world and 45 of them had been nominated by the judges, according to the organizers of the Amsterdam-based competition.

The awards ceremony took place online this year due to coronavirus restrictions.

The photo of the year award was won in 2020 by AFP photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba, for an image of a young man reciting a poem among protesters in Sudan.