La Trinidad Strawberry Festival, other events cancelled in Benguet and Kalinga amid novel coronavirus scare

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 11) — Officials of La Trinidad town and Benguet and Kalinga provinces have ordered the cancellation of major festivals as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.

La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda said Tuesday he and other members of the Strawberry Festival executive committee agreed to cancel the event to heed the Health Department's advisory against holding crowd-drawing activities.

The Strawberry Festival — which was set for March 9 to 31 — has been celebrated since 1981 to showcase the strawberry as the town's main product and to strengthen ties between locals and visitors.

Meanwhile, Kalinga Governor Ferdinand Tubban, in an executive order signed Tuesday, issued a last-minute cancellation of the 25th Kalinga Foundation day celebration and the 4th Bodong Festival. These festivities were supposed to take place beginning Wednesday, February 12 until Friday, February 14.

The province formally separated from Apayao in 1995. Bodong is a bilateral peace pact among the tribes of Kalinga and parts of Mt. Province.

Last week, Tinglayan town in Kalinga and the towns of Atok and Kibungan in Benguet announced the temporary closure of tourist attractions. Benguet's Bakun town also temporarily suspended all its tourism activities.

Earlier, the Interior Department issued a memorandum mandating all local government units to intensify their programs in the fight against 2019-nCoV. The Education Department also issued a directive to postpone all national and regional activities involving students and teachers in February.

In January, the Baguio City government also cancelled the opening parade of the known Panagbenga or flower festival.

Stringer Lauren Anuma contributed to this report.