Philippines says members of the public are not allowed to touch Duterte
MANILA — Nobody can touch Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte — literally, his security office announced on Monday.
The Presidential Security Group said it would implement a no-touch policy between Duterte and the public as a preventive measure “to ensure the safety of [the president] and the first family” amid the coronavirus outbreak.
"Personalities who are expected to get near [the president] during meetings and events will be thoroughly screened and tested for any illness or symptom related to COVID-19,” the group commander, Jesus Durante III, said, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. “These include Presidential Security Group personnel, politicians, and other dignitaries.”
The group also said that gatherings expecting to draw large crowds will be assessed and possibly canceled.
The tough-talking Duterte gained international recognition for his bloody war on drugs, which has left thousands dead.
The state of the 74-year-old president’s health is the subject of public scrutiny. He has previously said he has various ailments, including Buerger’s disease and an autoimmune condition called myasthenia gravis, among others. A newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, reported Duterte was absent from at least eight events last year due to various health reasons.
The Philippines has 10 recorded cases of the coronavirus.