The pads, plasters and tape protect their faces from painful sores that can develop from their protection suits as they tend to coronavirus patients for hours on end.

This combination photo created on March 13, 2020 shows nurses from Keimyung University hospital posing for portraits between shifts caring for patients infected with the Covid-19 novel coronavirus in Daegu.
This combination photo created on March 13, 2020 shows nurses from Keimyung University hospital posing for portraits between shifts caring for patients infected with the Covid-19 novel coronavirus in Daegu. (AFP)

Across their foreheads, cheeks and noses, the nurses on the front line of South Korea's struggle against the coronavirus outbreak wear bandages that have become badges of honour.

They apply the wrappings before each shift at the Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital, in the southern city at the centre of what has become the largest national outbreak outside China, where the virus first emerged.

The bandages prevent bruises and blisters from the protective gear they are mandated to wear while treating Covid-2019 patients.

In this photo taken on March 12, 2020, nurse Jeong Heo-yu poses for a portrait on a break between shifts caring for patients infected with the Covid-19 novel coronavirus at Keimyung University hospital in Daegu.
In this photo taken on March 12, 2020, nurse Jeong Heo-yu poses for a portrait on a break between shifts caring for patients infected with the Covid-19 novel coronavirus at Keimyung University hospital in Daegu. (AFP)

Teams of full-time and volunteer nurses operate at the hospital, one of the biggest in Daegu, and the bandages have come to represent their self-sacrificing efforts.

"I'm trying hard," said nurse Kim Eun-hee.

They have been lauded for their efforts, with one poster on South Korea's Naver portal telling them: "You guys are truly heroes to me. I am infinitely grateful to you."

Teams of full-time and volunteer nurses caring for Covid-19 novel coronavirus patients in the largely shut-down city of at the centre of South Korea's outbreak city of Daegu are being hailed as heroes on the front line of South Korea's fight against the outbreak.
Teams of full-time and volunteer nurses caring for Covid-19 novel coronavirus patients in the largely shut-down city of at the centre of South Korea's outbreak city of Daegu are being hailed as heroes on the front line of South Korea's fight against the outbreak. (AFP)

Letters of support are also displayed at the hospital. "The whole nation is behind you," read one, from a well-wisher who sent thermometers and snacks.

Around 200 nurses are working eight-hour shifts at the facility, hospital representative Jung Sang-min told AFP, nearly half of them volunteers.

The bandages they wear on their faces help to protect against painful sores incurred while wearing full protective suits for hours on end, and have come to represent their self-sacrificing efforts.
The bandages they wear on their faces help to protect against painful sores incurred while wearing full protective suits for hours on end, and have come to represent their self-sacrificing efforts. (AFP)

"More nurses wear bandages than doctors because they spend more time tending patients," he said, adding that it takes about half an hour to don the protective suits they wear.

"The nurses are the ones who truly dedicate the most in this fight," Jung said.

South Korea on Friday reported 110 new infections, its lowest for three weeks, and for the first time the figure was less than the number of recovered patients discharged.

Source: AFP