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Celebrities around the globe join #SafeHands challenge

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ tweet, posted Saturday, nominating BTS and three others for the #SafeHands challenge. (Twitter)
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ tweet, posted Saturday, nominating BTS and three others for the #SafeHands challenge. (Twitter)

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is nominating high-profile people around the world to participate in WHO’s “SafeHands” challenge on Twitter, including K-pop boy band BTS.

So far, 62 Twitter accounts have been targeted, with the list of nominees ranging from Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio to 17-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

Of the 62 nominees, 15 had tweeted videos of themselves washing their hands as of Wednesday at noon. Phumzile Mlambo, executive director of UN women, tweeted that she was accepting the challenge without posting a video.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia have posted “SafeHands” challenge videos and so have Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Soccer celebrities such as FC Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker, legendary goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and FIFA President Gianni Infantino have also taken part in the challenge.

None of the singers Tedros nominated has posted a “SafeHands” challenge video, but Lady Gaga has tweeted that fans should stay home and stay safe, a message that Tedros retweeted.

WHO launched the “SafeHands” challenge Friday with a two-minute video of Tedros washing his own hands, showing the process step by step and encouraging nominees to nominate three others to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Take the #SafeHands challenge by sharing their videos and calling on at least another 3 people to join us! Together, we can beat #COVID19!” tweeted Tedros upon each nomination.

Tedros nominated BTS on Saturday along with three others, including singer Katy Perry, but BTS has yet to respond. BTS’ agency, Big Hit Entertainment, did not respond to requests for comment.

While many global celebrities are among the nominees, BTS is the only one from East Asia. The nominees also include many climate change activists, including DiCaprio and former US Vice President Al Gore.

Many people have criticized Tedros on Twitter, saying his delayed response caused the coronavirus to spread further. A number of BTS fans frowned upon the band’s nomination as concerts have been delayed or canceled due to COVID-19. Fans said the challenge was a way for WHO to stifle criticism surrounding its inability to contain the coronavirus.

“Please don’t mention BTS. Stop using them for your political support and purpose. Please leave them alone,” one BTS fan said in a retweet.

Despite the criticism, Tedros’ daily tweets continue.

By Lim Jang-won (ljw@heraldcorp.com)
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