Police inspector Rajesh Babu, from the city of Chennai, has been wearing the specially designed helmet during traffic stops to raise awareness about the seriousness of obeying the lockdown orders and social distancing rules amid the pandemic caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The CCP virus-style headgear upcycled from old newspapers and a broken helmet is effectively helping spread the word around about the ongoing epidemic.
Speaking to Asian News International, Babu said that people are still coming out on the streets despite government restrictions. “The helmet is an attempt to do something different,” Babu told ANI.
Babu said that when he stands at checkpoints wearing this helmet “the thought of coronavirus comes into the minds of the commuters.”
So far, the unique helmet, designed by local artist B. Gowtham, has been an effective way to convey the message. “Especially, the children react strongly after seeing this and want to be taken home,” the cop said.
The 27-year-old artist Gowtham told ANI that he was inspired to design this awareness-creating tool by his desire to support the police and educate the public.
The artist said, “The public at large is not treating the COVID-19 situation seriously, whereas, the police personnel are working round the clock to ensure people stay at home and do not venture out so that further spread of the disease can be stopped.”
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a three-week nationwide lockdown on March 24, 2020, to slow the spread of the CCP virus in India, Gowtham swung into action.
“[O]n the first day of the lockdown, I went and spoke to the police about doing this. I wanted to make their jobs easy,” the artist told VICE.
When he approached the police force with the idea to use art to combat non-compliance, they were very receptive. “Rajesh [Babu] sir was very happy to do these experiments. He wanted to do something creative too, so when we spoke, our wavelengths just met,” Gowtham told VICE.
Gowtham, an engineer-turned-artist, designed the helmet from a discarded motorcycle helmet with paper-mache from newspapers; with red spikes like those of the life-threatening virus, the helmet definitely gets people’s attention on the road and on social media.
He said that “the job of the person wearing the helmet is to talk like he is the coronavirus.” Prior to creating the helmet, Gowtham had made a placard showing a “cute, emotional” CCP virus emoji with the phrase, “If you come out, I’ll come in.”
On April 21, 2020, India’s Ministry of Health & Family Welfare reported 18,601 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 590 deaths countrywide. The statement noted that as many as 3,252 persons have been cured or discharged after recovery.