How a Senegal TV sequence is combating coronavirus

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Senegal’s newest TV drama star is a fictional physician who supplies coronavirus recommendation – a far cry from characters within the West African nation’s normal fare of infidelity-themed cleaning soap operas.

Since late April, a brief tv present within the Wolof language, dubbed The Virus, has aired on social media and on a non-public channel, specializing in day-to-day life through the pandemic.

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“We wanted to make five to eight-minute TV films to show what to do and what not to do to avoid the coronavirus,” stated the programme’s director, Mohamed Moustapha Kante.

Wearing a face masks on his cluttered set within the capital metropolis, Dakar, Kante defined that the concept behind the sequence was to transcend stilted authorities slogans such “wash your hands” or “cough into your elbow”.

The 30-episode sequence is being broadcast on ITV, one of many nation’s hottest channels.

It began airing initially of Ramadan and broadcasts within the night, when the Muslim devoted break their quick, and when many Senegalese like to take a seat in entrance of the field.

In The Virus, the fictional Doctor Diouf seems on the finish of episodes constructed round each day life in common Senegalese properties, to proffer his recommendation.

“The messages vary from day-to-day,” stated Alioune Thiam, the actor who performs Doctor Diouf.

In one episode, for instance, a younger man criticises his sister who is simply too engrossed by social media to take heed to well being warnings about COVID-19.

She learns her lesson when she finally catches the virus, nonetheless.

“We’re getting feedback from viewers,” says Thiam. “For example, someone told us he didn’t know that diarrhoea was one of the symptoms.”

Increasing infections

Senegalese authorities have recorded some 1,200 coronavirus instances to this point, with 33 fatalities, a low quantity in contrast with Europe and the United States.

But infections are growing, and as with different poor international locations within the area, there are fears that Senegal is ill-prepared to deal with a big outbreak.

The authorities has shut the borders, restricted travel between cities and imposed a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew to curb the virus.

But authorities are additionally broadly receptive to coronavirus-related leisure.

For instance, the well being ministry is at present advising a number of manufacturing firms which are growing virus-related content material, in keeping with its spokeswoman Ngone Ngom.

“We have received a lot of productions and storylines on the coronavirus,” she stated. “We are currently looking at how to work with these production companies to raise awareness.”

Senegal’s broadcasting authority has additionally warned in opposition to irresponsible programming, nonetheless, and has issued steering that “television and radio stations avoid anything resembling the stigmatisation of victims”.