2 Cordillera towns closed to tourists over COVID-19
Gerry Lee Gorit, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Raymund Catindig, Gilbert Bayoran, Eva Visperas, Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2020 - 12:00am

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, Philippines  – Two more towns in the Cordilleras have been placed on lockdown due to the threat posed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Mayor Cesar Molitas of Kibungan, Benguet issued an executive order suspending the 50th Council Scout Jamboree and other tourism activities.

Molitas said Mt. Oten in Barangay Tacadan  is closed to trekkers and visitors.

Mt. Panitet, the Ugid Underground River and Balbalasang National Park are the other tourist attractions in Balbalan.

Atok, also in Benguet, which is becoming popular to tourists for its Sakura gardens, had been earlier placed on lockdown.

In Kalinga, Balbalan Mayor Eric Ganayon closed the town to tourists in line with the advisory of the Departments of Health (DOH), the Interior and Local Government and Education against the holding of mass gatherings and crowd-drawing activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On Monday, the provincial government of Kalinga cut short the celebration of the Bodong Festival, which was supposed to culminate with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the province tomorrow.

Early this week, Tinglayan Mayor Sacrament Gumilab said the town, particularly Barangay Buscalan where visitors, mostly foreigners, flock to get a tattoo from artist Wang-od, is closed to tourists as a precautionary measure against the flu virus.

The Pindang Festival to be held in Mangaldan, Pangasinan next month was also postponed.

Councilor Aldrin Soriano, chairman of the municipal council’s committee on public information mass and social media, said the move was in line with the DOH advisory. He said Mayor Marilyn Lambino led local officials in conducting dialogues with various sectors about the matter.

Camiguin bars visitors from affected areas

Camiguin Gov. Jurdin Jesus Romualdo issued an executive order on Monday banning the entry of visitors who have been to countries affected by COVID-19.

“Camiguin as a tourist destination is a potential hotspot for infection... Regulating the movement of persons is deemed to be effective in curbing the spread of the virus,” Romualdo said.

He said residents who have visited China and its special administrative regions as well as other countries affected by thre acute respiratory disease are required to undergo quarantine for 14 days.

Hotels, resorts, common carriers and other tourist-related establishments were told to inform their guests about the travel restriction and refund those with advance payment.

Romualdo said 130 Chinese tourists visited Camiguin last month.

More PUIs discharged

Meanwhile, in Negros, eight persons under investigation (PUIs) were discharged from the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital and Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital on Tuesday after they tested negative for the flu virus.

Grace Tan, Bacolod task force spokesperson, said another PUI was set to be discharged yesterday. 

Annie Mendoza, Bulacan communicable disease control program coordinator, said three of seven PUIs in the province also tested negative for COVID-19.

In Baguio City, a woman and her 10-month-old baby who arrived from Austria via Hong Kong, are among 14 PUIs in the Cordilleras.

Amelita Pangilinan, DOH regional director, said five PUIs were discharged from a hospital on Tuesday.

Nine PUIs – three each from Abra and Baguio, two from Benguet and one from Mountain Province – remain confined in various hospitals.

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