Contagion stars Kate Winslet, Matt Damon and Marion Cotillard issue coronavirus PSA: ‘Wash your hands. Stay at home’

Actors relayed advice from scientists who advised on the 2011 thriller in videos produced by director Steven Soderbergh

Kate Winslet and Matt Damon issue start warning over coronavirus

Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Matt Damon have appeared in series of videos with their Contagion co-stars Laurence Fishburne and Jennifer Ehle, to deliver a message about the coronavirus pandemic.

Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z Burns produced the videos, which were filmed by the actors themselves in their homes.

Contagion, a 2011 drama, has resurfaced in the public consciousness amid the pandemic due to its plot about a new virus that rapidly spreads around the world.

Winslet, Damon, Fishburne and Ehle have now teamed up with scientists from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health to issue public service announcements about Covid-19.

Each actor speaks on a different issue, such as the need to wash your hands, and listen to experts.

“One of the most important things [the experts] taught me: wash your hands like your life depends on it,” Winslet says. “Because right now in particular, it just might.”

“[In the movie] I played a guy who was immune to the hypothetical virus,” Damon explains in his video about social distancing. “That was a movie, this is real life. I have no reason to believe I am immune to Covid-19, and neither do you. no matter how young you are, this is a new virus, it’s gonna take some time for our bodies and doctors to understand it, and to understand the best way to protect us.

“New viruses emerge all the time, this isn’t the first and it won’t be the last. The good news is we have seen things like this before and we emerged stronger as a result, and in time we’re gonna win against this one as well.

“How much time? That is an excellent question. Nobody knows that for sure, but we do know how to make that day get here quicker,” he continues.

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“Social distancing means staying six feet away from another person. It means not gathering in groups and it means staying home or sheltering in place if that’s what government officials are telling you to do.

“People can have Covid-19 and have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, so even if you think you’re healthy or they’re healthy, don’t take that chance, it is not worth it.”

Damon also makes the point that young people are not immune to the virus and called out those who attended spring break in the US.

“You might think that this is no big deal... that is not true,” he says. “Almost 40 per cent of the people hospitalised in this pandemic are under 55.”

He reiterated government instructions to stay at home: “You can actually sit on the couch and watch TV, and save a life at the same time.”

Cotillard, at her home in France, addresses how people have “a choice to make”.

“There is a future where you listen to your public health experts, and that means you go home and stay there until they say it’s safe,” she says. “A future where you take care of yourself and the people you love by observing social-distancing, working from home, not gathering in crowds, and washing your hands with soap and water as often as possible.”

The PSAs were written with the help of the same experts who worked on Contagion, including Dr W Ian Lipkin, who is currently leading research to develop tests and drugs for coronavirus.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there is more need than ever for information about scientific, evidence-based precautions that we can all take to better protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities,” a statement reads.

“Misleading, inaccurate messages and advice about the Covid-19 pandemic are being shared across both traditional and social media platforms. We wanted to do our part to curb this.”

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