Celebrating Valentine's Day amid coronavirus scare, according to Duque

HEALTH CHIEF. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III answers questions from the media after the senate public hearing on the Philippine government's preparedness on the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease on February 4, 2020. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

HEALTH CHIEF. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III answers questions from the media after the senate public hearing on the Philippine government's preparedness on the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease on February 4, 2020.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Wondering how you can show your affection on Valentine’s Day amid the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) scare? Let Health Secretary Francisco Duque III count the ways.

Asked during a February 14 press briefing how best to celebrate Valentine’s given the health department’s advisory asking people to avoid crowded gatherings, Duque said, “The best greeting is like this,” then waved his hand in greeting. 

You can also acknowledge the other person by slightly bowing your head and putting your hand to the opposite chest “if you want the Namaste,” the health chief said, referring to a customary Hindu greeting.   

If you want to give your loved one a kiss, it would be best to give them a flying kiss, and this is how to do it correctly, according to the health chief, “When you do the flying kiss, make sure it (your hand) does not touch your lips, and you also don’t talk while you are delivering the kiss.”

Duque had a light exchange with Malacañang reporters amid immense pressure on the health department to level up its response to the new virus. So far, the Philippines only has 3 confirmed cases  and no case of human transmission. One of them died after developing severe pneumonia due to the virus, but the other two recovered from the respiratory disease and have since been discharged from the hospital.

The virus has killed 1,383 people and infected over 64,400 others, mainly in China. The health department heads the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases, which leads government efforts to contain the spread of the new disease. 

The task force’s resounding advice to the public has been to practice proper hygiene and coughing etiquette. The virus can be transmitted through respiratory droplets, which means that when an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets carrying the virus could reach infect other people. 

In the meantime, the task force also recommended a temporary travel ban on travelers coming from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Taiwan has since contested its inclusion, even warning that visa-free privileges for Filipinos there could be suspended due to the ban.  – Rappler.com