Government departments launch fresh comms campaigns as coronavirus concern grows

The Government ramped up its advice to the public yesterday with two departments issuing guidance on self-isolation and foreign travel, amid rising concern over new coronavirus cases in the UK.

The latest coronavirus comms messaging from the DHSC and FCO
The latest coronavirus comms messaging from the DHSC and FCO

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) both issued new advice to the public yesteday, with the former advising against all but essential travel abroad.

A short video with a gloomy soundtrack and sepia filter sets the tone for a suitably serious approach by the FCO in its latest coronavirus comms warning that Britons should not undertake any non-essential overseas travel.

There have been more than 100,000 views of the film, branded as part of the FCO's existing Travel Aware campaign, since the FCO tweeted it yesterday.

The video reinforces the messaging in a statement by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday, in which he announced: “UK travellers abroad now face widespread international border restrictions and lockdowns in various countries. The speed and range of those measures across other countries is unprecedented. So I have taken the decision to advise British nationals against all non-essential international travel.”

Meanwhile, the DHSC has updated its ongoing publicity campaign with new guidance for households that may have been infected with the virus, telling people to stay at home for 14 days if someone in their household has symptoms.

The message adds to existing TV, radio, online, digital and billboard ads that reinforce the importance of washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, and tell people to self-isolate for seven days if they develop a high temperature or a new continuous cough.

The awareness campaign also encourages people to seek help online by visiting to check their symptoms and follow the medical advice, rather than visiting their GP. It also urges people with any symptoms to avoid contact with older and more vulnerable people.

This comes as the Government has shifted to a tougher stance. As part of the new daily press conferences, Boris Johnson announced yesterday that those under 70 and who do not have an underlying health condition should restrict the contact they have with other people, including using public transport less, working at home and considering not going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and bars.

People aged 70 and over, and those with an underlying health condition or who are pregnant are being strongly advised against these activities, and to significantly limit face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.

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