‘Postpone Valentine’s Day,’ a Supreme Court justice suggests amid virus scare

February 13, 2020 - 7:25 PM
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Beijing residents wearing face masks
Residents wearing face masks walk next to a handwritten propaganda banner against the novel coronavirus in a hutong, following its outbreak in the country, in Beijing, China on Feb. 11, 2020. (Reuters/Tingshu Wang)

Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen proposed, likely tongue-in-cheek, the postponement of the celebration of Valentine’s Day to prevent the spread of the 2019 coronavirus or COVID-19.

On Twitter, Leonen suggested that “holding hands and kissing should also be discouraged” while those without partners should be contented with exchanging glances for the meantime, “especially if long practiced.”

“In the light of the COVID-19 global health emergency and the existence of other pathogens, I propose that we postpone Valentine’s Day,” Leonen tweeted.

“Holding hands and kissing should also be discouraged. Those without significant others, pasulyap-sulyap is alright especially if long practiced,” he added.

Reacting to Leonen’s suggestion, former presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said it was was “too extreme” and amusingly called it “very unconstitutional.”

“That’s too extreme naman, Marvic! People have been informed by fear and of course, by our DOH (Department of Health)! Hmmm… methinks you don’t have a partner on Valentine’s Day that you seek to deprive others of the equal protection of the law of the hearts! A very unconstitutional proposal,” he tweeted.

Veteran journalist Inday Espina-Verona, meanwhile, agreed with the magistrate and said that flowers should also be included in the proposed contact-free Valentine’s Day.

“Flowers, too, unless they come from your own garden,” she said.

Practice ‘social distancing’ 

The Department of Health recently advised Filipinos to be “less romantic” on the Feast Day of Saint Valentine amid the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed thousands of lives globally.

Dr. Jesse Fantone, an epidemiologist from the Department of Health in Central Luzon, said lovers should be more temperate in expressing affection.

He advocated for “outdoor dating” in uncrowded places in accordance with DOH’s advisory to practice “social distancing” for the meantime.

“Seriously, if you really want to go out on Valentine’s Day, probably not too crowded areas like concerts,” Fantone said to The STAR.

The DOH previously issued an advisory for the public to avoid crowded areas due to the communicable nature of the viral disease.

“To further minimize the risk of contracting 2019-nCoV ARD (the previous name of COVID-19), the public is advised to avoid crowded places and continue to practice self-protection measures,” it said.

The same advice was issued by a virology expert in the UK who said people should avoid “hand-shaking, hugging” and “kissing” due to the “social” nature of the virus.

“I think this virus has a weakness; it loves us to be close together,” John Oxford, an emeritus professor of virology at the Queen Mary University of London, said.

“We have to govern ourselves in our social actions, how we interact with people, and I think that’s extremely important,” he added.

The Philippines has 230 persons admitted into hospitals and health facilities for possible COVID-19 infection, based on the latest data provided by DOH as of this writing.

So far, there are no reports of local transmission in the country.

There are, however, three cases of Chinese nationals confirmed with the COVID-19 recorded in the Philippines. Of the three, one has passed away, another returned to China while the first patient has recovered from the disease.

Eleven other Filipinos onboard a cruise ship have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus strain.