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COVID-19: Government launches coronavirus ad campaign telling people to ‘act like you’ve got it’

A major new public awareness campaign has been launched, urging people to behave like they are infected with coronavirus.

As case numbers surge, hospitals become swamped and deaths continue to rise, there have been growing fears that people have not been observing social distancing rules.

The campaign – made up of TV and radio adverts as well as a social media blitz – tells people to stay at home and “act like you’ve got it”.

Around one in three people infected with the virus do not have any symptoms and could therefore be passing it on without realising, according to government figures.

The TV advert, which runs from tonight, is fronted by England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and is an attempt to encourage people to keep complying with the restrictions.

On 1 September, there were fewer than 500 people with COVID-19 in hospital, the government said.

This had soared to about 9,000 by 1 November, and on Christmas Day it had reached 17,701 – just below last spring’s peak.

On 7 January, that number had rocketed to almost 30,000.

In a solemn warning to the nation, Professor Whitty says: “COVID-19, especially the new variant, is spreading quickly across the country. This puts many people at risk of serious disease and is placing a lot of pressure on our NHS.

“Once more, we must all stay at home. If it’s essential to go out, remember: wash your hands, cover your face indoors and keep your distance from others.

“Vaccines give clear hope for the future, but for now we must all stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that infection rates are soaring at an “alarming rate” and “our hospitals are under more pressure than at any other time since the start of the pandemic”.

“The vaccine has given us renewed hope in our fight against the virus but we must not be complacent,” he said.

“The NHS is under severe strain and we must take action to protect it, both so our doctors and nurses can continue to save lives and so they can vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as we can.

“I know the last year has taken its toll – but your compliance is now more vital than ever. So once again, I must urge everyone to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “we need to pull together for one final push”, adding: “I know how much we have all sacrificed already, but the new variant has significantly changed the current landscape and we absolutely cannot let up now.”

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