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On the island of Jamaica, political and social messages have long been spread through the dancehalls and music, and so it is with coronavirus.

Just days after the island’s first confirmed case, an educational single, New Hail, was released to teach listeners how to avoid spreading the virus.

As well as trying to popularise a new method for greeting your friends, New Hail, by Zagga, educates listeners about hygiene, including covering their mouths when they cough, and eating the right foods to fortify their immune systems.

Explaining his reasons for recording the song, Zagga told the Jamaica Star:


Mi just ah think, we cyan a guh roun’ and touch touch people like we used to. Then me link wid one of my G dem – and you know da likkle supm deh weh we ah rub off big finga? Mi seh dah hail deh now, it haffi guh cut out. Because dis nuh good fi we health, right now. Right deh so now, di song pop inna mi head, like yow, we need fi hail wid we foot enuh.

Despite the dancehalls closing, many fans had also been hoping that a new dance would emerge to mark the coronavirus crisis. But dance star Ding Dong of the Ravers Clavers dance crew has refused calls to come up with a new coronavirus move, calling the outbreak “a serious matter”. He told the Star:


It a affect yuh, and it nuh care ‘bout race, riches or gender. A nuh everything make fi gimmick and joke ‘bout. As an artiste, I’m all about the fun, but this is not a fun thing and me coulda never do a dance fi some people siddung and joke and laugh about. Yuh know how much street dance cancel over this thing, how many people livelihood affected? Yuh know how much a my show dem get cancel because no travelling nah gwaan?

With 12 confirmed cases as of yesterday, Jamaica’s lack of advanced medical infrastructure and close links countries with surging outbreaks, such as the UK, United States and Canada, makes it potentially vulnerable. Jamaican prime minister Andrew Holness declared the island a disaster area on Friday, and announced a travel ban on visitors from the UK, the source of the Jamaica’s first case.

On Monday, Holness announced a raft of restrictions to contain the spread of the virus, including calling for all non-essential public and private sector employees to work from home, a ban on public gatherings of more than 20 people; the closure of all bars, nightclubs and other entertainments; and restrictions on numbers in taxis and on public transport.

Penalties for anyone caught breaking the rules include imprisonment for up to 12 months and a maximum J$1m fine.

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