A video showing frontline medics pleading with the public to take the coronavirus epidemic seriously has been widely shared as part of an appeal to “stay at home”.
Footage showing respiratory doctors, nurses and physiotherapists speaking about battling the Covid-19 strain has clocked up more than one million views within hours of it being uploaded on Sunday night.
The clip was made by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and received widespread praise on social media.
In the UK, as of 9am on March 22, 281 people have died after testing positive for the strain. A total of 78,340 have been tested, with 5,683 of those tested positive.
In the video, 20 healthcare workers stand in the atrium of Belfast’s Mater Hospital – with the recommended two metres between them – and team members taking it in turn to urge people to help limit the spread of Covid-19.
One of them, a respiratory consultant called Angela, says: “We are now at a crucial time, this is not a rehearsal, you will only have one chance at this.
“Stay at home.”
It comes amid evidence of many people seemingly ignoring social distancing advice over the weekend.
Stormont’s Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, hailed the message from the Belfast medical team.
“I salute you,” she tweeted.
“Thank you for what you are doing. Please hear the people trying to save lives – we are in a crisis. Stay at home.”
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, also retweeted the video.
“At times of crisis, health care workers stay at work for us,” she wrote.
“They are asking us to stay at home for them.”
The video was one of several social media messages posted as part of the #fightback campaign which saw sports stars and celebrities across Northern Ireland appeal to people to stay at home.
The region’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, welcomed what he described as a “grassroots” initiative.
“That’s the sort of spirit we all now need to embrace,” he said.
Dr McBride expressed concern that some people are not taking the outbreak seriously enough.
“People should not be trivialising this disease – while it is for most a mild to moderate illness, for some it’s not,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.
“There’s no point any of us looking back in two weeks and thinking ‘I wish we’d done more’.
“We need to take steps now and over the next couple of weeks to protect our health service, so that our brothers, sisters, mums, dads, grannies and grandfathers get the care they need from the health service and to protect our healthcare workers.”