President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte reiterated in a televised address on July 31 that petrol can be used for disinfecting face masks if cleaning agents were unavailable.
Spokesman said Duterte was joking, Duterte says he's not
"What I said is true,” Duterte said. “Just go to the gasoline station, and then have some drops, that’s disinfectant."
His spokesman had attempted to clarify previously that what the leader said was a joke, reminding the public that Duterte often says things in jest, after he made a similar remark last week, according to Reuters.
Duterte claimed during a public broadcast on July 21 that that flammable liquids like petrol could be used to clean face masks if cleaning materials prove to be too expensive.
“At the end of the day, hang it somewhere and spray it with Lysol if you can afford it,” Duterte said.
For people who don’t (have Lysol), drench it in gasoline or diesel, and that son of a b*tch Covid won’t stand a chance. Just find some gasoline (and) dip your hand (with the mask) in it,” the Philippine president said.
Philippines health department and health experts refute Duterte's claims
The country's Department of Health quickly issued a correction, suggesting that the president was joking and that residents should not take the advice seriously.
"Cloth masks should be washed every day, after every use. It should be washed, and dried (under) the sun," the health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said to reporters, according to Yahoo Philippines.
Medical experts have also since refuted his claims, and said that his mask cleaning tips were not recommended.
"You cannot use gasoline as disinfectant. Inhaling it may cause harm and could lead to more problems like respiratory disease," Jose Santiago, President of the Philippine Medical Association, told Reuters.
It has been mandatory to wear masks in the Philippines since March 2020.
The country has over 85,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and close to 2,000 deaths.
Top image via Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images