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Wash Your Lyrics: Viral site puts coronavirus handwashing tips to any song

William Gibson, 17, created a poster-generating website that puts song lyrics on a U.K. handwashing poster.
William Gibson, 17, created a poster-generating website that puts song lyrics on a U.K. handwashing poster. File/Getty Images

Washing your hands for 20 seconds — the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice — is the best way to prevent contracting the novel coronavirus, experts say. But one teenager wants everyone to have a wider song choice.

William Gibson, 17, is the brains behind not-for-profit Wash Your Lyrics, a website that allows individuals to choose a song and have a handwashing poster created especially for them.

The poster, based on a diagram released by the U.K.’s National Health Service, displays a 13-step handwashing routine and has been making the rounds on social media recently with different lyrics in place of the popular birthday song.

READ MORE: Your coronavirus questions, answered — Medical experts respond to your COVID-19 concerns

Gibson said it feels “crazy” that big stars like Miley Cyrus, Blink-182 and singer Troye Sivan know about his clever creation.

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“I had a feeling it would be popular but didn’t think it would go quite this big,” he told the BBC. “It was weird seeing celebrities I’ve followed for years on Instagram posting about it.”

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A meme shows the poster featuring different lyrics, from 100 Gecs’ single Money Machine to Sisqo’s Thong Song, but Gibson wanted to make things a little easier.

So far, Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is the most popular song on Wash Your Lyrics.
So far, Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is the most popular song on Wash Your Lyrics. Wash Your Lyrics

Instead of using editing software to copy and paste lyrics, Gibson’s creation allows people to simply select their song and have a new poster created immediately.

“It just felt so sad singing Happy Birthday to myself every time I washed my hands,” he said.

The BBC reports that Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is, so far, the most popular song of choice on the website.

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READ MORE: Travel bans accelerated worldwide as coronavirus spread worsens, markets plunge

The new coronavirus was first identified in Hubei province, China, in December 2019 and spread rapidly. While the outbreak has begun to level off in China, it seems the virus has found a foothold in a number of countries around the world, and it continues to spread.

Confused about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.

Manitoba Health Minister announces province’s first presumptive case of COVID-19
Manitoba Health Minister announces province’s first presumptive case of COVID-19

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca