Rodrigo Duterte: ‘I’m not joking – clean masks with petrol’

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Philippines’ president Rodrigo Duterte has once more told people to disinfect their face masks with petrol – insisting he was “not joking”.

He had made similar remarks last week – but officials were quick to correct him, and suggested it had been a joke.

Health officials also said cloths masks should be washed normally, and surgical masks replaced after use.

But on Friday, the president doubled down – saying “what I’ve said was true… attend a gasoline station”.

There is no evidence that gasoline can disinfect masks; having prolonged contact with it are often harmful; and pouring flammable liquids are often a fireplace risk.

What did Mr Duterte say?
Referring to his earlier comments, Mr Duterte said: “They [critics] said, ‘Duterte’s insane.’ Stupid! If I’m insane, you ought to be the president, not me.

“What I’ve said was true. If alcohol isn’t available, especially for the poor, just attend a gas station , and use [gas] to disinfect.

“I am not joking. i’m not joking. You… you are trying to urge inside my brain.”

What did he say last week?
Mr Duterte said those that did not have cleaning supplies could use gasoline as a disinfectant to wash their masks.

“At the top of the day, hang [the mask] somewhere and spray it with Lysol if you’ll afford it,” he said, referencing a well-liked disinfectant brand.

“For people that don’t [have Lysol], drench it in gasoline or diesel… just find some gasoline [and] dip your hand [with the mask] in it.”

After last week’s comments, presidential spokesman Harry Roque quickly corrected him.”I can’t believe that after four years of him as president, you continue to do not know [him],” said Mr Roque, consistent with news site Rappler.

“[It’s only a] joke. Why would we use gasoline for washing?”

Meanwhile, health official Maria Rosario Vergeire said cloth masks should be washed and dried normally, and surgical masks replaced after use.

In February – shortly after the Philippines became the primary country to register a Covid-19 death outside China – President Duterte moved to downplay the difficulty , saying the virus would eventually “die a natural death.”

But after a month-long lull in recorded cases – a period which critics say wasn’t used effectively to mass test and get in touch with trace cases – numbers began to rise.

President Duterte declared the lockdown of the country’s main island Luzon in early March.

He used special powers granted to him by Congress to realign national budgets and put soldiers on the streets to tackle the crisis.

To do so, he was required to update the state hebdomadally with a national address.

The president made the addresses late in the dark . He was often late to start out , and was criticised on social media for being rambling and confusing, and sometimes veering off topic to threaten his enemies.

Mr Duterte’s former spokesman, Harry Roque, was brought back to manage the message – and therefore the evening addresses began to be edited and released the subsequent morning.

A YouGov online survey found that Filipinos who rated the Duterte government’s response to the virus as “very well” or “somewhat well” fell from 72% in May to 51% on 29 June.

Filipino pollsters – who have repeatedly recorded strong approval ratings for the President – haven’t been ready to do door-to-door surveys during the outbreak.

Although compared to other Covid-19 global hotspots, the Philippines’ numbers of recorded cases and deaths are lower, so too are testing figures – with only around 1% of the population screened thus far .

What is the virus situation within the Philippines?
A daily high of three ,954 cases was recorded within the Philippines on Thursday, bringing the entire number of cases to 89,374.

There are slightly below 2,000 confirmed Covid-related deaths.

Mr Duterte announced on Friday that restrictions within the capital Manila would remain until mid-August.

Manila is currently under a general community quarantine – which limits the movement of the elderly and youngsters , and imposes other restrictions.

The president also promised that free vaccines would tend out – when one is eventually released – with lower-income Filipinos prioritised.

Source: bbc news

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