By Tarek Ali Ahmad, Al Arabiya English
Lebanon’s health minister has asked citizens to avoid kissing “except in absolutely necessary cases,” in a bid to curb and prevent the swine flu virus from spreading.
However, with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, his calls do not appear to have been taken very seriously.
Speaking in a lighthearted tone during a press conference, Wael Abou Faour said that “there is no need for special measures to cope with the virus,” calling for “the need to ease kissing except in cases of necessity,” adding that “the normal flu vaccine is needed to treat the H1N1 virus.”
The minister added that swine flu had so far caused the deaths of four people in Lebanon this year.
Some Lebanese seem – perhaps understandably – hesitant to obey.
“It was like a joke, and as a Lebanese I know that no one will follow his request with Valentine’s [Day] or without,” said Rania el-Khatib.
Some took to social media platform Twitter to voice their surprise at the warning.
A spokeswoman from the World Health Organization said that although the virus could be transmitted through activities such as kissing, multiple precautions were needed to reduce the risk of getting infected.
“Using hand hygiene and social distancing from people who have symptoms of flu, as well as vaccination with the Flu vaccine for people at higher risk of complications such as elderly, people with chronic disease, like heart diseases, diabetes, asthma etc., and pregnant women,” the spokeswoman said.