[ COVID PICTURE STORY ] A multiple-picture story, essay, sequence or series based on daily coverage of general news or breaking news related to COVID-19. Each submission consists of 10 to 20 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 3 submissions. All images must be taken in 2020 or 2021.

Judges for Covid Picture Story
Anush Babajanyan
Liang-Pin Tsao
Nyimas Laula
Samuel He
Jean Chung
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First Place

A Failed Response

Ezra Acayan
Getty Images
Philippines

Despite remaining under the world’s longest lockdown for most of 2021, the Philippines still experienced one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Southeast Asia. Millions went hungry and jobless as businesses closed, and those infected struggled to get beds in hospitals. Healthcare workers have resigned out of fear and exhaustion as they bear the brunt of what critics say is a failed pandemic response. The government has been heavily criticized for its sluggish vaccination campaigns, overly militarized solutions, and corruption of billions in pandemic response funds.
Thailand has approximately 2,700 captive elephants, most of which are trained to entertain tourists, a long significant source of national revenue. COVID-19 plunged the global economy into collapse, forcing hundreds of these elephants and their mahouts to migrate back home from tourist sites. The nation is ranked third-worst globally for its handling of the pandemic. Two years without income and amid an ongoing public health crisis, a sustainable solution is yet to emerge for the animals and their unemployed caretakers. Hope for the recovery of the sector—once an economic goldmine—remains uncertain. Government support has been minimal. Unemployed mahouts, mostly from ethnic minority communities, are struggling with the massive responsibility of caring for both their elephants and their families. Without access to veterinary care in rural areas, some elephants have died of medical conditions which may have been treatable. In response, some local vets have launched Thailand’s first mobile clinic to care for them. Amidst anguish and misery, some mahouts are seeking alternative ways of earning enough to feed the animals dependent on them by opening community-run camps or using online tools to connect with tourists virtually. A new protection act addressing elephant welfare is being examined which could potentially replace an outdated law created in 1939 when the animals were seen as beasts of burden serving the logging industry. Animal rights groups have urged Thailand’s current tourist camp business model to reform to an “elephant friendly” setting that would allow the giants to roam more freely in a forest, no longer reliant on performing for visitors to ensure their own survival. While the debate continues over the precarious future of Thailand’s iconic elephants, the pandemic has revealed the animals to be more than simple money-makers for their mahouts, who treat them as part of their families.

Finalist

Myanmar’s Covid Crisis

Ta Mwe
Sacca Photo
Myanmar

Like much of Southeast Asia, Myanmar weathered the early storms of the COVID-19 pandemic by shutting its borders and imposing strict internal travel restrictions to reduce spread of the disease. However, by the time a third wave of infections hit the country in July 2021 Myanmar was in the midst of new political turmoil and there was no controlling the virus. In February the Myanmar military had taken control of the country in a coup, detaining Myanmar’s elected leaders and placing the entire country under a ‘State of Emergency’. Almost all sectors of the country were devastated by the coup, with Healthcare one of the worst affected. With Myanmar facing this third wave of COVID-19 infections, hospitals overflowing, and martial law in effect, large numbers of patients found themselves being refused access to hospital facilities and forced to go through the illness in their own homes due to a severe lack of emergency medical services. During the height of the surge Yangon’s crematoriums worked around the clock to burn the dead.

Finalist

Nomad Vaccination

Dar Yasin
AP
India

Health workers trekked long distances through remote Himalayan meadows in Kashmir to vaccinate nomadic herders who have travelled for centuries between summer mountain pastures and winter grazing grounds in the lowland plains, herding their goats, sheep and horses. The challenge for the health workers was not the treacherous terrain but persuading these nomads to get inoculated against the coronavirus. “Everywhere we go, it seems rumours reach earlier than we do, and it makes our job difficult,” said one of the health works said. People are hesitant to get vaccinated because of the rumours. And the rumours are plentiful. Fuelled by misinformation and mistrust, many of these people, particularly in remote areas, believe the vaccines cause impotence, have serious side effects and can even lead to death. Some simply say they do not need the shots because they are immune to the coronavirus.

Award of Excellence

Gasping for Air

Anindito Mukherjee
Independent
India

It was the suddenness and the intensity of the second COVID-19 wave that took everyone by surprise in India as it broke a fresh record with over 412,000 new cases of Covid-19 the total number of those infected according to Health Ministry data neared 20 million, the health care system of the capital and in many parts of the country collapsed and record number of people ended up desperately seeking Oxyegn support which was scanty. The second wave crisis kept intensifying showing no signs of easing pressure on the country as people desperately seek supply of Oxygen, even hospitals and health centers ran out of it and denied admission of newer patients due to lack of resources.

Award of Excellence

The New Name of Death

Farshid Tighehsaz
VII Photo
Iran

With the matter of current pandemic our lives changed dramatically in worldwide, contributing to a pervasive sense of uncertainty, loss, and isolation. The traumatic situation of the pandemic threats our psychological existence directly. Especially, in closed and critical societies such as Iran it effects in very concerning way. This project is a deep exploration into the aspect of reality that disappeared in news coverage. Mahammad Hatami, the head of the psychology organization of Iran reported; ‘Since the Covid-19 pandemic began it hits the people’s life. In post-Covid society we are facing with the tsunami of the psychological disorders, which it will emerge with social damages. In fact, COVID-19 threat increased the complexity and depression in society more than ever. The death toll is rising every day and this is worrying situation. These factors combined brought about an experience of a trauma, whose impacts will also disorganization the social behavior that related to the well-being of the population. A transformation is happening in our psychological dimension of everyday life — an invisible mutation which hides itself behind the masks and gloves.

Award of Excellence

Indonesia Battles Second Wave of Covid-19

Garry Lotulung
Independent
Indonesia

Covering Indonesia’s second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Jakarta & Bogor is a daily circuit of Self-isolation, cemeteries, hospitals, and tent hospitals capturing the struggles of a nation of 270 million people. I visited the COVID-19 Hospital for the fourth time, inside the emergency ward for COVID-19 patients at a government hospital, here is what I saw. Rise in severe cases. ICU beds are full. Most patients on ventilators. Medical workers are exhausted. Indonesia has recorded its highest daily death toll from Covid-19, amid a second serious outbreak of COVID-19. As it continues to battle the spread of the virulent Delta variant. There have now been over three million confirmed cases in Indonesia, with 2069 deaths recorded on Tuesday, 27th July. On average there are around 50,000 new cases a day, figures which are widely believed to be severely underestimating the real impact due to low testing rates and poor contact tracing. Lockdown restrictions have had a significant impact on locals, as many Indonesians are reliant on informal labor, which puts their livelihoods at risk during extended emergency restrictions.

Award of Excellence

Life of Volunteer

Kyaw Zay Yar Lin
Independent
Myanmar

He is a volunteer for the Covid-19 duration .firstly, he prepare by wearing PPE suit to take daily philanthropy and go outside in the early morning to take duties.Before outside,he greeting his baby across from glass window .He can’t embrace with hands because he is a volunteer always contact with Covid-19 patients.After greeting, He is start philanthropy such as spraying biocide in homes and public places, patient transporation from each places,taking swab samples from Covid-19 contact persons, cadavers carrying from hospitals and homes. Moreover, packing the cadaver with winding-sheet in accordance with tradition ,carry and dispose the cadavers to cemetery to buried.And They also making funeral home in front of cadaver.He take the many cadavers buried and cremation. After buried and cremation he was sad due to cadavers,never go back home persons.And then ,he cleaning and spraying biocide used things to protect from Corona Virus clung before rest.He is taking every kinds of helping upon every ethnic during Covid-19 pandemic. After finish his duties ,he spray biocide to each other to protect from Covid-19 and he try to incinerate PPE suit after using .He is inactive to go home because he miss his baby smile and need to rest time .His baby is also waiting his father’s greeting by drawing in home.Covid-19 pandemic which can killed the physical and mental.So,Many peoples are facing with many difficulty due to pandemic.In this peoples, volunteers are more facing with many challenges more than others. So,I respect all around the volunteers. This is represent all of the volunteers from the world and shown the social distancing of volunteers in family.