‘Kiss me again?’ Lebanon’s health minister doesn’t think so!

Wael Abou Faour warns citizens to kiss less as to avoid contracting the H1N1 virus ahead of Valentine’s day

Tarek Ali Ahmad

Published: Updated:

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 Wednesday 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.

Then, the hashtag ‘#kissforfaour’ began trending in Lebanon after Michelle Hamaoui tweeted this:

Before long, several people began posting satirical images and memes of people kissing.

The creator of the trending hashtag #kissforfaour said that she had been inspired by #Stripforjackie, a popular 2014 Lebanese hashtag in support of a skier whose topless photos had stirred controversy in the country.

“Some people reacted by saying ‘all you do is make jokes’ but thinking [that] avoiding kissing alone is an enough safety precaution is ridiculous,” Hamaoui told Al Arabiya English.

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.