Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said that he was not joking about using gasoline as a disinfectant for protective masks in the absence of other cleaning agents, a statement he uttered last week, according to Reuters. Many did not take the president’s words as a legitimate suggestion at that time, especially after his spokesman Harry Roque explained during a press conference last week that Duterte’s words were just a joke. But the president has since clarified that his advice should actually be taken seriously.
“For those of you who don't really understand, I'm not joking, that's true, you thought I was just joking but in fact I am not joking,” Duterte said in Filipino during a televised address that was aired on PTV4 on Friday.
“Just go to the gasoline station, and then have some drops, that’s disinfectant”, the president said, according to Reuters translation.
The President of the Philippine Medical Association, Jose Santiago, however, doubted Duterte’s statement, later clarifying to Reuters that using gasoline as a disinfectant for protective masks was not recommended as “inhaling it may cause harm and could lead to more problems like respiratory disease.”
Wearing face masks in public places has been made mandatory in Philippines since April, as the country of 106 million has recorded more than 90,000 cases of coronavirus and 2,000 deaths so far.