AFP’s coverage of the first moments of the Covid-19 outbreak in downtown Wuhan, China, has been rewarded by Asia’s most prestigious journalism competition. AFP’s Chilean photographer Hector Retamal in Shanghai won the first prize Thursday in the “Excellence in Photography” category from the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA). AFP Beijing’s Venezuelan correspondent Leo Ramirez won the second prize in the “Outstanding Video Reporting” category.
AFP won the award for its coverage of the Wuhan outbreak. Together with French journalist Sébastien Ricci, the two winners arrived in Wuhan (central China) on January 23, 2020, the same day the city was placed under quarantine and closed to the outside world, according to an AFP report today. Lasting eight days, they were the only multimedia team from an international agency to cover the desolate streets and overcrowded hospitals of this city of 11 million people.
In this tense environment, they produced many memorable photos and videos at a time when the exact nature of the epidemic threat was not well understood.
One image they will be remembered for is that of the dead elderly man lying on the sidewalk in Wuhan, surrounded by rescue workers in full protective clothing.
According to the SOPA jury, “This is the power of photography to show what mere words cannot. Most of us can only imagine what Wuhan looked like during its time in Covidien,” the SOPA jury argued, “Mr. Retamal’s photographs show us exactly what it looked like.”
The jury also emphasized the quality of the work Leo Ramirez did in Wuhan. According to SOPA, it was “a textbook case of excellent video journalism,” praising AFP for emerging from the cradle of a global pandemic at a time when the world was painfully watching its situation unfold.
Leo Ramirez” told the story with clarity, facts and impartiality. The jury noted, “The video is short, rich in footage, accessible, and has amazing off-camera narration that not only explains what you’re seeing, but puts the images into a broader global context.