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Kate Winslet is one of five cast members who filmed themselves offering Covid-19 health tips

The stars of the film Contagion have released public service announcements urging the public to social distance and wash their hands.

Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Ehle, and Laurence Fishburne filmed themselves giving Covid-19 protection tips.

The videos were created in collaboration with academics at Columbia University.

“Wash your hands like your life depends on it,” says Winslet.

“Because right now, in particular, it just might. Or the life of someone you love. Or even the life of someone you might not know but is still deserving of your consideration.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Contagion has experienced a revival, finding itself back in the iTunes film charts. The film is about a deadly virus that spreads rapidly around the world, resulting in mass panic and social disorder.

Damon says the soaring download numbers are for “obvious reasons given what we’re all living through right now”.

The cast of the Steven Soderbergh film were educated by pandemic experts and health officials for the 2011 thriller.

The social media campaign came about after Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health contacted the Contagion cast and asked if they’d be willing to have a virtual reunion to do some public service announcements.

Each of the cast members talks about a particular theme in their video.

Damon, who was immune to a hypothetical virus in the film, talks about social distancing in his clip.

“It means stay 6ft 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.”

He points out that people with mild or no symptoms are still capable of spreading the virus.

“Even if you think that they’re healthy, or you think that you’re healthy, don’t take that chance, it is not worth it.

“Every time that you pass this virus to someone else, you are actually giving it to three or four other people as well and then those people are going to do the same so before long that one person turns into hundreds, which turns into thousands, and that’s how we got into this situation in the first place.”

Fishburne, who plays a doctor in Contagion, pointed out that Covid-19 is forcing people around the world to change how they live in the same way that smallpox and polio did.

“Quite simply, one of the best ways to prevent yourself from getting Covid-19, is behaving like you already have it,” he says.

Ehle, who helps to develop a vaccine in the film, points out that paranoia is similar to a virus in many respects.

“It requires fear and misinformation to spread,” she says. “We don’t need scientists to cure that, just compassion and common sense.”

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