As South Africa continues to see an increase in new cases, celebrities and social media influencers have been challenged to step in and join government in the fight against COVID-19.
This was among the suggestions raised during an interactive conversation with South African youth held on Wednesday.
Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) led the virtual session under the theme: “SA Youth’s Facts on Vaccination: A shared Responsibility”.
The session forms part of government’s initiative to work with young people to combat misconceptions about COVID-19, while creating an enabling environment for the youth to contribute ideas on how to stay safe during the pandemic, and how vaccines can restore normality.
Entrepreneur and social media influencer, Daniel Marven, who was among the guests, said the rise in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths is also due to carelessness, adding that it is not going to be easy to change people’s mind set.
Marven noted that with the country now on alert level 1, some people, especially the youth, no longer adhere to the COVID-19 regulations.
“We can preach about COVID-19, but when you go to pubs and bars, people are not following the regulations. Maybe celebrities hired to perform at the events, should force the event organisers to enforce COVID-19 restrictions, like wearing masks, where they are performing,” Marven said.
Echoing Marven’s sentiments, radio presenter and artist, De Original Careless, said that artists can send messages about COVID-19 through songs and comedy. Storytelling by celebrities and influencers will be more meaningful and have an impact.
“We can fight Coronavirus through comedy or storytelling, while having fun,” Careless said.
Department of Sport, Arts and Culture spokesperson, Masechaba Khumalo, said: “Young people are most likely to listen to celebrities and influencers, and we can make use of them to send out the message.”
The guests also looked at ways to address fake news stories and encouraged people to verify information from news sites that publish credible content, before retweeting a “story”.
They recommended that government make use of unemployed Information Technology (IT) students to come up with software that can detect and prevent fake news.
Senior Researcher, Dr Sheetal Kassim, encouraged the youth to assist people over 60 years to register for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Kassim assured that the vaccine is safe.