Employees of oil major BP and its lubricant division Castrol Africa have initiated a campaign to encourage the people of Africa to make and wear facemasks to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
Other personalities appearing the campaign include Francois Pienaar, the captain of the South African team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and singer Youssou N’Dour, a cultural icon from Senegal.
A group of employees at BP/Castrol Africa launched the campaign after noticing that it was impossible to respect social distancing in some African communities. In crowded urban settlements, residents often need to share facilities, leading to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention favouring mask-wearing and personal hygiene as more realistic preventive options.
The campaign will seek to raise awareness through social media, as well as more traditional media like posters and radio. There is also a Make Your Mask challenge, where people are invited to make a mask in under 30 seconds before posting a selfie and the time taken and inviting three friends to do the same.
The chief medical officer at BP, Richard Heron, said:
“Our BP and Castrol Africa employees feel passionately that the creation and dissemination of simple educational materials around the making and wearing of homemade facemasks, along with reminders on frequent hand washing and social distancing could make a real difference.”
He added that such efforts were particularly important in regions where people already endured poverty, crowded living conditions, and hard-pressed healthcare systems.