Philippines to arrest those who do not wear mask properly

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the police to arrest anyone not wearing a mask properly, including below the nose, as the country battles to contain surging infections.

Mr Duterte, who received his first shot of Sinopharm's Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, issued the directive after a meeting with his Covid-19 task force - where everyone except him could be seen wearing face covering - an official video on Wednesday showed.

Thousands have been punished for violating Covid-19 rules since the end of March, when curbs were tightened in the capital and surrounding provinces after a spike in cases.

Mr Duterte said police should get tough on rule-breakers and arrest those not wearing a mask properly - including those who leave their nose exposed.

"My orders to the police are those who are not wearing their masks properly... arrest them and detain them, investigate why they are doing it," Mr Duterte said.

"It is not for me, it is not for us. It is for the interest of the country so you won't infect and you won't be infected."

Mr Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque confirmed the arrest order yesterday, saying violators could be held for up to 12 hours without charge.

Police and soldiers have played a key role in the country's pandemic response, setting up checkpoints and deploying thousands of personnel to enforce stay-at-home orders.

The Philippines' caseload of more a million infections is the second highest in South-east Asia. - AFP