In efforts to increase public awareness about the NHS’s Covid-19 Track & Trace system, the government is paying for influencers such as Love Island’s Shaughna Phillips and Josh Denzel to promote it on social media.
It’s been predicted that the celebs, some of whom have over a million Instagram followers, could have been paid around £15,000 of taxpayers’ money for the sponsored posts, which encourage followers to get tested if they’re symptomatic, as they have gained thousands of ‘likes’ each.
While the move has been branded as pathetic and desperate by some, it appears to be young people – the exact demographic of the internet stars – who are causing the recent spike in new coronavirus cases by meeting in large groups and failing to maintain social distancing. It’s our age group who needs to act more responsibly in accordance with government guidelines (although they can be pretty confusing), so taking the campaign to Instagram could be a good approach.
A government spokesperson has confirmed that, ‘our use of social media influencers has meant over 7 million people have been reached’, and the initiative is ‘just one part of a wider campaign utilising TV, radio, social, print and other advertisements to ensure the public has the information it needs’.
It’s true that the system itself hasn’t been launched entirely successfully – roughly 75.5% of people who have been in close contact with a later-diagnosed Covid case in England are reached within 72 hours, short of the government’s 80% target. It’s hoped that by raising awareness of the benefits of complying with the scheme, the risk of widespread infection from as-yet undiagnosed cases can be minimised.
Stats from the last few days suggest that the R-number across the UK – the figure which indicates how many other people someone infected with Covid is likely to pass the virus onto – has risen above 1, with some saying it could even be as high as 1.7. This alarming increase in infection rate shows that people need to be reminded of the importance of social distancing more than ever, and if they need to hear it from the wise mouths of ex-Love Islanders to pay attention, then so be it.