This article originally appeared on VICE India
Earlier this week, VICE caught up with an artist who created the “coronavirus helmet” to raise awareness about social distancing in his hometown, Chennai, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. B Gowtham created this upcycled piece of art to not just instill fear in people who are still venturing out during the 21-day lockdown in India, but to also deliver a warning about what COVID-19 is capable of. Since then though, several versions of the “coronavirus helmet” have sprung up across India.
In Bengaluru, traffic police personnel have started wearing a different version of coronavirus-themed helmets, albeit with shorter spikes to mimic the structure of the virus, as they participate in a campaign to educate the public about the preventive measures against COVID-19.
On April 2, police officers were seen atop horses as they wore yet another version of the coronavirus-themed helmet during an awareness campaign in Secunderabad.
In the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, a police officer rode a horse that was splattered with coronavirus-themed paintings in bright red. As he rode within the village of Peapally Mandal, he informed the people about the coronavirus, and how to protect themselves.
As the Indian authorities experiment with creative measures, Gowtham, in the meantime, has made an advanced version of his helmet. Meet Coronavirus Warrior, complete with a “corona shield” and “corona mace”, made of recycled waste materials. A police inspector wore the gear to visit the local markets of Chennai.
“The purpose of the coronavirus helmet was to warn people who are still coming out and gathering, especially at check-posts on the streets, to create awareness about social distancing and personal protection,” says the artist. “This time, we exclusively wanted to get to people who continue to come out to market areas. The ‘corona warrior’ is the need of the hour, especially as cases continue to escalate in the country. The coronavirus helmet has now evolved into a coronavirus warrior, to protect the people.”