The stars of the 2011 virus thriller Contagion — a prescient film these days — have reunited for a series of public service announcements to warn about COVID-19.
Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle have teamed up with scientists from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health to offer four individual homemade videos with advice and a message of unity.
“Wash your hands like your life depends on it,” Winslet says in her PSA. “Because right now, in particular, it just might.”
Ehle stresses that the coronavirus is novel, meaning no one is immune. “Every single one of us, regardless of age or ethnicity, is at risk of getting it,” she says.
Contagion, directed by Steven Soderbergh, explores a scenario in which a lethal and fast-moving influenza is spreading around the world. Damon in his video notes that it is “creeping it’s way up the charts on iTunes, for obvious reasons.”
Damon, who in the film played a character who was immune to the hypothetical virus, also stresses listening to experts and staying 6 feet apart. “That was a movie. This is real life,” he says. “I have no reason to believe that I’m immune to COVID-19. And neither do you.”
Fishburne appeals to helping medical staff on the front line. “If we can slow this thing down, it will give our doctors and our nurses in our hospitals a fighting chance to help us all get through this thing together,” he says.
The PSAs were written by the film’s screenwriter, Scott Z. Burns, under the guidance and with the input of the same medical experts who worked of the movie. They were all shot by the actors themselves, with Winslet’s husband helping film her video.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
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. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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