Mountain Province festivals scrapped amid COVID-19 fears

Raymund Catindig - The Philippine Star

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, Philippines — Tourism and cultural festivals in two towns in Mountain Province have been cancelled amid concerns over the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).

Besao Mayor Johnson Bantog II cancelled mass gatherings, including the town fiesta and Ubaya Festival, from Feb. 29 to March 4 as well as the Women’s Day celebration on March 8.

Bantog said a task force created to address concerns over COVID-19 and the town fiesta executive committee recommended the scrapping of the events during an emergency meeting on Friday.

He urged his constituents to attend mass on March 1, which marks the town’s 116th anniversary, and pray that Besao be delivered from the threat of the flu virus.

Bantog said the general assembly of the Besao Multi-Purpose Cooperative on March 14 was also postponed.

Meanwhile, Tadian Mayor Constito Masweng cancelled the Ayowweng di Lambak Festival from March 6 to 8 and the Anap di Banoan di Tadian beauty pageant on March 4.

Masweng said the move is in line with the recommendation of the Department of Health to avoid mass gatherings as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.

The Panagbenga and several other festivals in the Cordilleras have either been called off or postponed due to the threat of the acute respiratory disease that has killed more than 1,000 and infected more than 60,000 others across the globe.

Pakaradjaan Festival cancelled

In Mindanao, Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman cancelled the Pakaradjaan Festival next month.

The event draws residents not only of Basilan but also of Zamboanga peninsula and nearby provinces.

Salliman said they are monitoring sea ports for passengers who could be infected with the flu virus.

The Lamitan City government procured thermal scanners and other medical equipment to check arriving passengers.

Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. said the provincial government, League of Barangay Captains, Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have implemented measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Allen Minalang, Lanao del Sur IPHO chief, said health offices in 39 towns in the province are giving daily reports on hospital admissions.

Minalang said there is not even a suspected case of COVID-19 in the BARMM.

In Central Luzon, health officials said the number of persons under investigation for the flu virus is down to 23 after 27 tested negative. – With John Unson, Ric Sapnu 

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