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Source: South Africa News Agency

As the country prepares for a COVID-19 resurgence, the Department of Health has launched a creative festive season campaign to remind the public that COVID-19 is still an everyday reality. 

Launched in collaboration with the Centre for Communications Impact, Clinton Health Access Initiative and other partners, the campaign seeks to influence social behaviour change amongst South Africans.

The campaign reminds the public about risky health behaviours that not only pose a threat on lives, but also contribute to the current COVID-19 resurgence. 

“As part of ongoing efforts to amplify the health awareness messages including existing COVID-19 messages to remain more relevant and resonant with the public, the department and partners have joined hands with a popular and self-taught animator Jonas Lekganyane, popularly known as Noko Mashaba and developed COVID-19 messaging from an instructional nature of communication to a more realistic and humours tone. 

“This has been implemented through personalising the virus with the creation of a character called “COVID Creature” and its many minions, visually showing their mission to infect as many people as possible through the eyes of the cult favourite animation character, Noko Mashaba,” departmental spokesperson, Popo Maja said on Thursday.

It is envisaged that the campaign execution approach will allow government to tell COVID-19 related stories that are familiar with most people. This,while illustrating the risk inherent in everyday scenarios in promotion of easily available and commonly recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions to be observed by all citizens, in order to minimise the risk of exposure to the pandemic. 

“Like many countries around the world, South Africa is on a precipice. We have survived the first wave of high COVID-19 infection, but the disease is still with us,” Maja said.

He added that despite various initiatives introduced in South Africa as part of the COVID-19 response, over 5,8 million tests were conducted with about 866 000 positive cases identified.

Regrettably, more than 23 450 lives have been lost to the fast spreading deadly pandemic since the beginning of lockdown in March 2020.

As the festive season kicks-off, the department has warned that the COVID-19 risk continues to increase as people are expected to travel to different places, including holiday destinations, travelling in both private and public transport such as buses and taxis.

On the other hand, he said, public places like malls and shopping centres are expected to experience high volumes of people, and these can be epicentres unless people observe COVID-19 preventative protocols to prevent new infections.

“Thus, our choices while on festive season and at all times will continue to determine the future of the country, as far as the fight against the pandemic is concerned. Enjoying holidays with our loved ones doesn’t mean we should let our guard down. We must remember that every additional person we come into contact with, increases the chances of possible transmission.

He also urged people to avoid large gatherings because “these are super-spreader events.”

Healthcare facilities remain open

Meanwhile, Maja has reminded members of the public that healthcare facilities will remain open and accessible at all times, including during lockdown and the festive season.

He said the services are provided in compliance with strict non-pharmaceutical COVID-19 prevention protocols which include, maintaining social distancing, wearing a facemask, washing hands with water and soap or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

“The data has shown that during the hard COVID-19 lockdown period, people, including patients on chronic treatment, avoided health facilities like other public spaces due to fear of possible infections. This has however, resulted in more uncollected chronic medication in some facilities and designated collection points which suggests that some patients defaulted on their life-saving treatment,” Maja said. –

MIL OSI Africa