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PSA gone wild

Despite rising anxiety over Covid-19, the messaging about the disease has been positive while being practical and useful—such as the plethora of options for songs and quotes to repeat as you wash hands for the requisite 20 seconds. These range from Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune to Lady Macbeth’s monologue from Macbeth. On the website Washyourlyrics.com, you can type in any song lyric and have it converted into a handwashing infographic poster with the chosen lyrics. In other creative and fun ways to raise awareness, an animated video by Vietnamese officials with a PSA (public service announcement) set to a catchy pop tune eventually took off as a TikTok dance by user Quang Dang (pictured), which in turn got shared by none other than Unicef on Instagram. Talk about going viral! —SB

Do the ‘elbow bump’

The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is transmissible through fomites—any surface, inanimate or otherwise, that might harbour the virus can infect people when they touch it. And awareness of this has brought into vogue new ways of greeting. The Wuhan shake, for instance, went viral recently after videos showed residents in the area bumping their feet, rather than hugging each other or shaking hands. This “foot shake" was replicated in regions across the world, including Iran, which has been hit badly by the outbreak.

Another form of greeting that has become popular is the “elbow bump". From European football managers, high-ranking IMF and World Bank officials to US vice-president Mike Pence, the elbow bump’s popularity has amplified as more and more famous people adopt it. The #elbowbump is now a trending hashtag on Twitter as well. — NS

‘Virus’ shows the way

As the coronavirus started spreading, Twitter users recalled Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, a 2011 film about a global pandemic with an all-star cast of Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law. Soderbergh’s film has a broad sweep and eerie similarities with the current outbreak, but a film that’s more relevant to the Indian experience might be Aashiq Abu’s Virus (2019). This Malayalam film (on Amazon Prime) is based on the 2018 Nipah Virus outbreak in Kerala. It focuses, in granular detail, on how the virus was detected and contained by the medical establishment and the authorities. A galaxy of Malayalam stars appear in roles big and small: Parvathy, Tovino Thomas, Revathi, Rima Kallingal, Joju George, Soubin Shahir, Sreenath Bhasi.

The film, which has a documentary-like attention to detail and chronology, is a moving tribute to the doctors and public health workers who helped contain the virus, some of them paying with their own lives. It’s also a model to live up to in the current scenario. The speed at which the authorities swung into action meant that the virus only claimed 18 lives. As various states react with differing levels of alarm to the coronavirus— Kerala and Delhi have closed movie theatres till the end of the month, most states haven’t—Virus reminds us that the time to act is before the spread of disease. Once it starts, it may be too late.—UB

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