The #StayTheF***Home Movement Wants You to Help Stop the Coronavirus Pandemic

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, people are getting creative when encouraging others to prevent the spread of disease, including a rather blunt campaign aimed at protecting the most vulnerable: "#StayTheF***Home."

Dubbed "a movement to stop the COVID-19 pandemic," their message could not be clearer. "Let's put it bluntly," the website states: "Stay The F*** Home!"

Founder Florian Reifschneider, who runs a web developing company and is currently working in Frankfurt, German, but is based in the U.S., wrote, "It is time for us, as citizens of this earth, to take action now and do our part in fighting COVID-19."

Reifschneider told HuffPostUK, "My goal is to reach as many people as possible with this in order to actually leave a mark, but honestly, if I can keep one person from getting infected or even better, infecting someone more vulnerable to this disease, it has already been worth my time creating this."

With a similarly tongue-in-check delivery and the same serious message, the Italian arm of the travel guide publisher Lonely Planet tweeted a parody of a front page titled "Casa," meaning "Home."

"Climb the Sofa Mountains, dive into the impetuous Ice Shower and try the street food of Whatremainsinthefridge. It's time to enjoy a magical place like you've never done before: it's time to stay home. #IStayAtHome," the publisher tweeted in Italian.

A separate campaign in Italy took a more sombre tone. The hashtag #rimaneteacasa, or "#stayhome," accompanies bleak images of both the young and old in hospital, alongside the rhetorical questions: Did you have fun skiing? Did you like Milan? How was the appetizer?

Their advice comes after China, where the outbreak started last year, put entire cities — including the epicenter of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province — in effective lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of disease for which there is no vaccine of specific treatment. In recent weeks, new hotspots have emerged, including Italy whose government expanded an initial quarantine zone in the north to cover the entire country. In the U.S, meanwhile, a number of states have banned large gatherings, and organizations such as the NCAA have cancelled events.

The #StayTheF***Home movement's 12-point "Self-Quarantine Manifesto" urges people not to panic "but be alert" and follow guidance given by the health authorities, including washing hands often, keeping good sneeze and cough etiquette, and practicing social distancing. For official advice on how to avoid catching COVID-19 and preventing its spread from the World Health Organization, scroll to the bottom of this article.

"By joining the movement and therefore limiting possibilities for new infections, you are not only protecting yourself, but you are also helping contain and limit the spread for everyone else, especially those who are at higher risk to suffer severe consequences from this virus," the StayTheF***Home website states.

Their warnings mirror those of a doctor in Western Europe who in a piece for Newsweek yesterday implored those in countries in the early days of outbreaks, such as the U.S. and U.K., to not make the same mistake as Italy by "pretending this is just a flu."

"The only solution is to impose social restrictions," the doctor said. "And if your government is hesitating, these restrictions are up to you. Stay put. Do not travel. Cancel that family reunion, the promotion party and the big night out. This really sucks, but these are special times. Don't take risks. Do not go to places where you are more than 20 people in the same room. It's not safe and it's not worth it."

On Twitter, #StayTheF***Home has set its profile to a picture of a graph showing what is known as a flattened curve, shown below.

On Twitter, account @StayTheF***Home, which is not run by Reifschneider, has set its profile picture to a graph showing what is known as a flattened curve, shown below. It compares how the number of cases could spike quickly and overwhelm hospitals if people don't pay attention to advice on hand washing and social distancing, versus the flattened curve if they do.

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Flatten the curve—a way to buy more time. Matthew McQueen/The Conversation

Matthew McQueen, director of the Public Health Program and associate professor of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado Boulder, explained the concept on The Conversation. "Rather than letting the virus quickly rampage through the population and burn itself out fast, the idea is to spread all those infections out over a longer period of time," he said.

"Yes, it would potentially prolong the epidemic. But in doing so, public health agencies and the health care infrastructure gain invaluable time to respond to the crisis. Most importantly, 'flattening the curve' provides an opportunity to significantly reduce deaths from COVID-19." Approaches to achieve this include minimizing social contact, and therefore staying at home as much as possible

Since the outbreak started in Wuhan last December, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica, as shown in the Statista map below, prompting the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic. According to a dashboard updated by Johns Hopkins University, over 69,000 people out of the 128,000 confirmed cases have recovered from COVID-19. A total of 4,728 have died.

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A map showing cases of COVID-19 around the world as of March 13.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
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A commuter stands on an empty Metro North train platform at Grand Central Terminal during rush hour on March 12, 2020 in New York City. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread in the United States, many professional events have been canceled and some businesses are starting to have their employees work from home. Cindy Ord/Getty Images

This article has been updated with a map, and to clarify that @StayTheF**kHome is not operated by Reifschneider.