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The messaging change that could be the key to stamping out COVID-19

A researcher who studied the effect random breath tests had on drink-driving in the 1980s has called for a similar campaign targeting the spread of coronavirus.

Professor James Dunbar has today penned the idea in The Age, along with Denis Muller.

He says it’s the only way life will return to normal in the absence of a vaccine.

“A group of us were asking ourselves the question: what could we think about that had brought about long term change?,” Professor Dunbar told Neil Mitchell.

“If you think about how that works, people now recognise that if they drink and drive they’re very likely to get stopped. They could be stopped anywhere, any time, so people don’t do it.

“The same thing really needs to be applied to sticking to the rules to prevent COVID-19 … it has to be that you become a pariah if you go to a big party and if you don’t observe social distancing.”

Professor Dunbar says, for that to happen, police have to be tough on those breaking the rules.

“The only way that works initially is by the police really cracking down, so we all know you’ll get caught,” he said.

“We need to have a media campaign in which prominent people say ‘ you’re an idiot if you don’t stick to the rules’.”

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