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Coronavirus Fears Have Led To A Golden Age Of Hand-Washing PSAs

The rapid spread of the new coronavirus has health officials scrambling to educate the public on good hygiene and best practices. And the need to communicate those messages has resurrected a classic art form: the public service announcement, or PSA.

Because the coronavirus is a global concern, video PSAs are emerging from all corners of the globe, all at once.

Unsurprisingly, many of the cleverest videos aren't government productions. Comedians, musicians and TikTokers are bringing humor and style to a genre that's thriving globally in a time of quarantine and closed borders: the hand-washing tutorial.


For sheer danceability, this PSA from Vietnam's Ministry of Health is the early winner. The video features an absurdly catchy beat on the 2017 song "Ghen" by singers Min and Erik.

Give it a listen (here with English subtitles) and just try not to groove:

The health ministry worked with the singers and with producer Khắc Hưng to write a new version of the song with lyrics about fighting coronavirus. Min released the video on her YouTube channel, bringing the health message to her 1.2 million subscribers.

The dancer Quang Đăng quickly choreographed a dance to the song with moves that are TikTok ready, from hand-washing to donning a mask.

Want to learn the hand-washing dance? There's a tutorial for that.


Singapore has a number of strong entries that follow the "conversation among friends" format. These videos set themselves apart by talking about some of the outbreak's less-discussed issues.

This video starts by discussing the problem of misinformation and ends with one man offering the other an air hug: "I am trying not to touch anything."

A second video addresses the consequences of hoarding supplies.

"We shouldn't panic," says one of the characters. "There are sufficient supplies of food. And the government also has national stockpile of essential items. If we all start hoarding, we will only cause anxiety and deprive others who really need these things."


View this post on Instagram . طریقه درست شستن دستها در موقعیت بحران، به بیان رهبر ارکستر سمفونیکِ شویندگان بلا... . Proper way to wash your hands . پ.ن: جدی بگیریم!! همه... . #کرونا #کروناویروس #کرونا_ویروس #پیشگیری #شمال_نرویم . . #coronavirus #corona A post shared by D.a.n.i.a.l (@danial_kheirikhah) on Feb 27, 2020 at 10:04am PST

In Iran, the comedian Danial Kheirikhah posted an orchestral spoof on the proper way to wash one's hands. His Chaplinesque performance infuses high art and physical comedy into the subject of hygiene.


The Nigerian actor and comedian known as Mr. Macaroni brings a dose of humor and reality to the advice about keeping a safe distance from others because of the new virus — especially when it comes to the ones you love.


In Israel, the Facebook user Inbar HB Levi posted a video of herself and a friend in a coronavirus-themed spoof of The Knack's 1979 hit "My Sharona."

Shrouded in medical wear, they sing: "Pandemic or disease? / Pandemonium / Just as long as it doesn't reach meeeeee corona."


In Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare posted videos on how to scrub your hands really well and demonstrates its suggested technique for wearing surgical masks.


A video from Italy's Ministry of Health stars the well-known television presenter Amadeus. The production is a bit spare, but the message comes through: Washing your hands often is importantissimo.

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Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.