“Covid can affect anyone. Stay home. Get tested. Book your vaccination,” reads an on-screen message in the 30-second ad, apparently intended to illustrate the risks posed to young people by the variant Highly contagious delta.
The ad, which began airing Sunday night in Sydney, “is pretty graphic, and it’s meant to be graphic,” Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told a press conference on Sunday. . “We are only doing this because of the situation (Covid-19).”
While Australia is doing better than many other developed countries in keeping infections relatively low, Sydney has seen the number of cases rise in recent weeks as the Delta variant takes hold. In response to the outbreak, restrictions have tightened in Australia’s largest city, with strict rules in place limiting outdoor gatherings, exercise and shopping.
New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, reported 112 new locally transmitted cases on Monday, almost all in Sydney, despite strict lockdown measures.
The new government announcement is part of a larger Covid-19 health campaign highlighting the severity of the latest outbreak, however, many Australians have expressed concern over its use of ‘insensitive’ fear tactics, and this that many perceive as confusing and contradictory messages.
Bill Bowtell, assistant professor at the University of New South Wales and strategic health policy consultant, said the announcement was “ill-conceived in every way possible”.
Of particular concern is the young woman struggling to breathe, according to Bowtell. Under the current vaccine rollout in Australia, most people under the age of 40 cannot receive the recommended Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, he said.
“Every piece of health communication has to be tasteful, has to be honest and honest. It fails in that regard,” Bowtell added.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that people under the age of 40 can ask their GP for an AstraZeneca injection even if they are not yet eligible for the vaccine, reversing a policy which previously prioritized high-risk groups such as healthcare workers and the elderly.
Addressing the backlash against the new government health announcement on Monday, Morrison said there would “always” be criticism. “I know that, and it was only a few weeks ago that our same critics were saying that the ad needs to be stronger, a lot stronger, even referring to the Reapers,” he told the CNN affiliate, Sky News Australia.
“[The ad] has two messages… one is to stay home, ”Morrison added. “We cannot be complacent about this. And the young people moving around the city put people in the whole community at risk, including themselves. ”
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