The photo is for illustrative purpose.
Manolo B. Jara, Correspondent
A senior Philippine National Police (PNP) officer on Wednesday announced they would ban kisses, hugs and other public displays of affection to contain COVID-19 amid a warning from a health expert that coronavirus cases could rise up to nine times more if the UK variant would become dominant in the country.
Brigadier General Ildebrandi Usana, the PNP spokesman, said the ban was part of the agency's determined efforts to ensure the observance of minimum health and safety standards in "barangay" (villages), commercial and recreational establishments.
The ban, Usana said, will cover couples, close friends and family members engaged in public displays of affection like hugs, kisses, holding hands and embracing each other.
"This is just one of the rules that we've mentioned in the past on the implementation of health and safety protocols. This is not any different.
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The PNP just wants to reiterate its earlier stand," Usana told CNN Philippines in a mix of Filipino and English. He did not say when the ban would start but assured the police would not impose sanctions on violators "for now."
But he added that a reprimand could be a start to remind Filipinos that they should, aside from maintaining health protocols like wearing of face masks, they also avoid from now on, public displays of affection to contain the virus. "We will just reprimand them," Usana said.
"Maybe, with just one look at our police officers, they will already stop. Or, if we can, we have to approach them and remind them that public displays of affection like kissing are no longer encouraged (amid the pandemic)."
But legal experts also noted that penalties or other sanctions to be imposed on violators of the ban should be contained in an ordinance to be approved by the councils of local government units like cities and municipalities.
The PNP announcement on the ban followed a warning from a health expert that infections could rise up to nine times more if the COVID-19 UK variant would become dominant in the Philippines.
"If the UK variant becomes the dominant strain, meaning it accounts for more than 50 per cent of the cases, we can have nine times more cases after a month," warned Dr John Wong, an epidemiologist. "So. we have to take precautions to avoid this."
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