Public information campaign to combat coronavirus ramps up

Chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty Credit: Simon Dawson/PA

An advertising blitz featuring England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty is being launched to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The public information campaign will hammer home the need for people to self-isolate for a week if they develop a high temperature or a continuous cough.

Along with TV adverts voiced by movie star Mark Strong, the campaign will also target newspapers, social media sites, billboards and drive-time radio shows.

Prof Whitty has been at the forefront of efforts to explain the Government’s approach, appearing alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson at recent press conferences.

His advice will feature in adverts voiced by Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy star Strong in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Coronavirus is the biggest public health crisis we have faced in a generation. It continues to spread both in the UK and around the world and we need to accept that sadly, many more of us will become infected.

“The Government and the NHS are working 24/7 to fight this virus.

“We must all work together and play our own part in protecting ourselves and each other, as well as our NHS, from this disease.

“This expanded campaign will focus on ensuring the public knows exactly what they should be doing to keep themselves and others safe.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appeared alongside chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty (left) and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance (right) in press conferences Credit: Simon Dawson/PA

As well as the information about self-isolation, the campaign will continue to highlight the importance of washing hands and catching coughs and sneezes in tissues.

It will also direct people with concerns to the NHS 111 website, rather than the telephone helpline, in order to keep the lines free for the most urgent cases.

Mr Hancock said: “Washing hands regularly for 20 seconds or more remains the single most important thing an individual can do, but we now also need to ask anyone with a high temperature or new continuous cough – however mild – to isolate yourself and stay at home for seven days.

“You should continue to follow our online clinical advice and not going to A&E or your GP if you develop mild symptoms.

“Combating this virus will require a national effort – we all have a role to play to slow its spread and protect the elderly and the vulnerable.”

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England’s medical director, said: “We know that novel coronavirus affects the most vulnerable the most and so it is absolutely vital that we do everything we can to protect them.

“This new guidance sets out what we can all do to help save the lives of those most at risk.”