A devastating photo has offered a grim glimpse into the ongoing and painful toll of coronavirus patients receiving treatment in hospital.
The photo, taken inside a hospital in São Paulo, Brazil, showed the hand of a sick patient as it rested in a hospital bed inside two gloves filled with warm water.
It was shared by a Twitter user on Saturday who described the image "a heartbreaking sign of the times".
Semei Araújo Cunha, a nurse at the Vila Prado Emergency Care Unit (UPA), was the person behind the viral photo, addressing the reason behind it in a social media post, news site G1 Globo reported.
She said it was "not enough to be professional, you have to be [an] empathetic human", explaining staff decided to use the glove technique while intubating the patient to simulate someone holding her hand.
The method also helped to "soften the extremities that were very cold", she wrote.
The photo was quick to go viral across social media, with thousands praising the incredible work of healthcare workers.
"When this is all over we are really going to have to be there for all the medical and hospital employees who are having to witness this in real time. I can't imagine how broken their hearts are," one tweeted in response.
"I am in awe of the human who was compassionate enough to think of this," someone else said.
"This image crushes my soul," a third wrote.
New variant detected in Brazil
The heart-wrenching photo comes as scientists in Brazil discovered another strain of Covid-19 in the same week as the country surpassed 4000 deaths in a 24-hour period.
Scientists believe the new variant has both similar and different characteristics to existing variants in Brazil, according to news site AA.
It was too early to identify whether the new variant posed any additional threats like being more transmissible or deadly, virologists say.
Covid-19 patients are using more than 90 per cent of beds in intensive care units in most Brazilian states, though figures have been stable since last week.
Still, hundreds are dying as they wait for care and basic supplies such as oxygen, and sedatives are running out in several states.
Despite this, local authorities nationwide argue that numbers of cases and hospitalisations are trending downward after a week of a partial shutdown.
With the nation’s pandemic toll fast approaching 340,000, many governors, mayors and judges are reopening parts of the economy despite lingering chaos in overcrowded hospitals and a collapsed health system in several parts of the country.
With Associated Press
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