In a bizarre statement, the President of Philippines on Friday urged people to wash their masks with petrol and diesel if they cannot afford alcohol.
This marked the second time when he spoke about this weird and rather dangerous way to clean one’s masks. He had spoken about it last week as well but it was brushed off as a joke by other officials of the administration after critics ridiculed the President over his “advice.”
Health authorities have clarified that cloth masks need to be washed normally while surgical masks are to be replaced after each use.
Yet, the President, Rodrigo Duterte, reiterated and advocated the usage of gas, claiming it to be a means to “clean” the mask.
“Dipping” or “washing” masks can prove to be detrimental for the person wearing it as it becomes inflammable. Moreover, it can block the individual’s respiration, amongst various other harmful effects.
Defending his earlier statement, Mr. Duterte said, “They [critics] said, ‘Duterte’s insane.’ Stupid! If I’m insane, you should be the president, not me. What I’ve said was true. If alcohol isn’t available, especially for the poor, just go to a gasoline station, and use [gas] to disinfect. I am not joking. I am not joking. You… you try to get inside my brain.”
In his previous conference, the President had offered an alternate means to clean the masks for people who can’t access the other materials. “At the end of the day, hang [the mask] somewhere and spray it with Lysol if you can afford it. For people who don’t [have Lysol], drench it in gasoline or diesel… just find some gasoline [and] dip your hand [with the mask] in it,” he said.
His spokesperson, Harry Roque, termed the statement as a “joke” in a bid to cover up the miscalculated move of Mr. Duterte.
According to Rappler, Mr. Roque said, “I can’t believe that after four years of him as president, you still don’t know [him]. [It’s only a] joke. Why would we use gasoline for washing?”
Maria Rosario Vergeire, a healthcare official spoke about the safer ways to clean the masks, that is, by washing them normally with water and detergent, or any other anti-microbial agent.
Philippines was the first nation, after China, to report its first covid-19 caused death in February. Instead of tackling the situation, the President went on to say that the virus will ultimately “die a natural death.”
After the implementation of proper measures was shushed by the government, the country began to see a steep rise in its number of cases. Following this, he imposed lockdown in Philippines’s major island, Luzon. He went on to also use his special powers, which allowed him to reassign budgets and bring the soldiers on street duty.
This move required him to address the nation every week, which the President started late at night, often drifting the subjects to threatens to other enemy countries. Harry Roque stepped in and the addresses then got trimmed, edited and telecasted for the general public on the next morning.
The number of cases and fatalities are comparatively lesser than the other countries of the world. However, this is because the testing and screening rate in the nation is way too low- around 1% of the total population has only been tested until now. Hence, the low numbers.
An all-time high of 3,954 cases were reported here on Thursday, making the total figure 89,374 with less than 2,000 deaths.