Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. (File photo)

MANILA – As the country observes Valentine’s Day on Friday, the Department of Health (DOH) encouraged the public to avoid physical contact with their loved ones to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the “best way” to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to express love through a “flying kiss”.

Duque added that anyone can spread the love by simply waving his hand or bowing his head to people.

“Best greeting is (waving hands), or Namaste (bowing), or flying kiss. When you do the flying kiss, make sure, it does not touch your lips. And you also don’t talk while you are delivering the kiss,” he said.

Duque made the suggestion amid the worldwide threat posed by Covid-19.

Couples and families usually prefer to celebrate Valentine’s Day in public places.

To prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, Duque reminded the public anew to observe proper hygiene.

“Wash your hands as frequently as possible. There is no danger (in) doing that, (but there is) everything to gain,” he said.

Duque, however, reiterated that there is no need for a healthy person to wear a face mask.

He gave the reminder amid growing concerns over the apparent shortage of face masks in the Philippine market.

People began buying face masks to protect themselves against Covid-19, especially since three Chinese nationals from Wuhan, China who visited the Philippines tested positive for the deadly virus.

One of the country’s Covid-19 patients died, while the other two recovered from the coronavirus.

More supply of face masks

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who joined Duque at the press briefing, said local manufacturers of face masks have pledged to increase the supply in the country.

Nograles said the increase in the supply of face masks is expected to address the needs of the general public needs, as well as of the DOH and the Philippine Red Cross.

“Through the efforts of DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), our local manufacturers of face masks have committed to supply 1.6 million N88 face masks for the next four weeks to meet the growing demand,” he said.

Nograles said the DTI is also encouraging other firms to manufacture face masks in the country.

“Through its Board of Investments, (the DTI) can offer incentives, such as (a) four-year income tax holiday and duty-free importation of capital equipment,” he said. (PNA)