Tourist towns in Cordilleras on lockdown due to nCoV

Raymund Catindig, Artemio Dumlao - The Philippine Star

BENGUET, Philippines — Atok town in Benguet and Tinglayan in Kalinga have been placed on lockdown to prevent the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV).  

In an executive order (EO), Tinglayan Mayor Sacrament Gumilab said the town, particularly Barangay Buscala, where visitors, mostly foreigners, flock to get a tattoo from artist Wang-od, is closed to tourists.

The local tourism office has informed Wang-od about the order.

Wang-od, 102, is considered a “living treasure,” being the last traditional mambabatok.

Gumilab said he ordered the creation of a task force to address concerns about nCoV.

Col. Job Russell Balaquit, Kalinga police director, said he would deploy a contingent to Tinglayan to man checkpoints to prevent the entry of tourists.

Officials of the municipal government of Atok ordered a lockdown of the town yesterday. The town is becoming popular to tourists for its Sakura gardens.


In Central Luzon, Director Cesar Cassion of the Department of Health (DOH) regional office said seven persons are under investigation (PUI) for nCoV while nine had tested negative.

“Three of the PUIs who had negative results were discharged, but are still being monitored. The six with negative results remain in hospitals for supportive care and will be discharged once they are fully recovered,” Cassion said.

The DOH said Bataan recorded two PUIs. One remains on quarantine.

Bulacan has two PUIs under quarantine, Nueva Ecija has one while Pampanga has five, two of whom have been discharged.

In Tarlac, six PUIs tested negative for the flu virus.

Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda said his constituents have no objection to the use of the Clark International Airport for aircraft that would fly stranded overseas Filipino workers from China.

In Zamboanga peninsula, Joshua Brillantes, DOH assistant regional director, said two Filipinos in Zamboanga del Norte and one each in Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga City are being monitored for nCoV. All patients recently traveled to China.

“They will not go out from their houses. All of them even though they are asymptomatic,” Brillantes said.

Four persons are under isolation at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City, according to Grace Tan, spokesperson for the Bacolod City interagency task force for nCoV.

Negros Occidental administrator Rayfrando Diaz said a resident of La Carlota, who stayed for nine days in Hong Kong, volunteered to be quarantined.

Pangasinan provincial health officer Anna Ma. Teresa de Guzman said three PUIs in Ilocos are confined in a hospital in La Union. 

Vessels from China

Meanwhile, Mayor Renato Gustilo of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental issued an EO barring vessels from China, Hong Kong and Macau from docking within its territorial waters.

The 21 crewmembers, including 15 Filipinos, of an international cargo ship that anchored between the San Carlos City port and Sipaway island yesterday were not allowed to disembark from the ship.  The vessel came from the Port of Ningde in China.

Lt. Cmdr. Jansen Benjamin of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Negros Occidental, said the crewmembers of the ship would be asked to proceed to a port in Cebu after inspection by the Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ).

Eleven Filipino crewmembers of a tugboat that arrived from China in Dumaguete on Tuesday night also remain in their vessel.

The BoQ in Bataan said it would welcome Chinese vessels, but its crewmembers should be quarantined for 14 days.

Calabarzon medical facilities

DOH-Calabarzon regional director Eduardo Janairo said medical facilities in the region are ready to treat persons who could be infected with nCoV.

”We have to protect more than 15 million people in the region... including colleges and universities with foreign students from countries where there are confirmed nCoV cases,” Janairo said.

Despite the nCoV scare, PCG spokesman Capt. Armand Balilo said the training of more than 2,000 recruits pushed through as scheduled.

Balilo said the six-month training, which started two weeks ago, is ongoing in Hinoba-an, Negros Occidental; Masbate, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga.  

“We are continuing with the training... but we follow the instruction of our commandant Admiral Joel Garcia that we should take precautionary measures, such as maintaining cleanliness in the training centers,” he said. – With Ding Cervantes, Gilbert Bayoran, Eva Visperas, Roel Pareño, Ric Sapnu, Evelyn Macairan, Mayen Jaymalin

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