That thing called coronavirus: Sagada shutters eco-tourism spots temporarily

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 13 2020 12:50 PM | Updated as of Feb 13 2020 01:08 PM

This file photo shows a tourist spot in Sagada, which closed its eco-tourism attractions on Wednesday as a precaution against a respiratory disease from China.ABS-CBN News

This file photo shows a tourist spot in Sagada, which closed its eco-tourism attractions on Wednesday as a precaution against a respiratory disease from China.ABS-CBN News

This file photo shows a tourist spot in Sagada, which closed its eco-tourism attractions on Wednesday as a precaution against a respiratory disease from China.ABS-CBN News

This file photo shows a tourist spot in Sagada, which closed its eco-tourism attractions on Wednesday as a precaution against a respiratory disease from China.ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The highland town of Sagada, popular among adventure-seekers and the brokenhearted, will shutter caves, trails and other eco-tourism attractions as a precaution against COVID-19 coronavirus from China, authorities said.

"Until further notice" eco-tourism spots will be off limits to tourists. The ban includes waterfalls and hanging coffins but excludes cafes, restaurants, hotels and lodges, said the Sagada tourism office. 

"There is an urgent need to protect the municipality of Sagada... from the threat of COVID-19 and similar strains by implementing prevention and control measures," Sagada Mayor James Pooten said in order, a copy of which was shared by Facebook Page Sagada Tourism.

Sagada's popularity was heightened after the 2014 romantic film "That Thing Called Tadhana" about a woman who nursed her broken heart in the town. Tourists flock to see the sunrise on Kiltepan, a cliffside lookout point that opens to a see of clouds to recreate a scene from the film.

On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte called on the public to remain calm and observe proper hygiene to arrest the spread of the virus.

The Philippines has so far had 3 confirmed cases, including 1 death. All of whom are Chinese nationals from Wuhan, where the pathogen was discovered. So far, 408 people have been checked for infection, of which, 238 were confined.

The Cordillera region, which Sagada is part of, has 10 patients being monitored for possible COVID-19 infection, as of Wednesday. It has no confirmed case of the disease, according to the health department's website. 

Beijing reported some 1,300 deaths due to COVID-19, which also forced the cancellation of numerous international conferences and the suspension of flights in and out of China.