An appeal by frontline staff in Belfast hospitals, urging people to “stay at home” during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been viewed two million times.
Standing in the city’s Mater Hospital, doctors, nurses and other health professionals deliver powerful messages such as: “This is our greatest challenge and we’re frightened.”
They said they had sacrificed precious downtime and come into work while off duty to record the short film because “time is of the essence”.
Dr Suzie Guy, a consultant respiratory physician, said: “We’re a few weeks behind Italy. We’re probably a week or so behind Spain and that’s where we’ve really seen things just get overwhelmed and out of control.
“What we’re trying to do is get the message out that we need to social distance, stay at home now,” she added.
Ann-Marie Marley, a respiratory nurse consultant, said: “We couldn’t believe the reach we got.
“The thing that made me happiest was seeing a tweet that the streets of Belfast are quite empty today and we’re just hoping and praying that people really are listening.”
For three consecutive days, doctors and nurses who should be conserving their energy, have been flooding social media with appeals for people to heed advice.
With the threat from COVID-19 escalating, they are on the frontline but eight weeks ago, Northern Ireland nurses were on the picket line, demanding equal pay.
Pat Cullen, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Northern Ireland, said: “Isn’t it incredible to think that two months ago, those very nurses that are working 14-hour shifts now to make sure the people of Northern Ireland are cared for were forced onto picket lines, losing days’ pay to do that?”
The hospital, where the video was shot will be the COVID-19 hub for Belfast, with other emergencies being diverted to the Royal Victoria Hospital nearby.
Every participant in the short film is treating patients with the virus and their message is simple: “Listen to us now. Not when it’s too late.”