Baguio City cancels Panagbenga 2020 opening parade over fears of new coronavirus

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2020 02:38 PM | Updated as of Jan 31 2020 04:43 PM

FILE PHOTO: Thousands of people flock to Baguio City's streets to view a parade of floral floats during the Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City in 2017. Photo by Rhys Bucat

MANILA - Baguio City has canceled the opening parade of the Panagbenga Festival over the weekend, its mayor said Friday, a day after the Philippines confirmed its first case of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease.

The month-long Panagbenga Festival usually draws in thousands of tourists to the streets of Baguio as it celebrates the "season of blooming."

"After due deliberation, I am canceling the Panagbenga street parade tomorrow," Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said in a press conference.

The Cordillera Regional Athletic Association (CARAA) added that "all events that will draw crowds and visitors in the next three weeks" are also canceled, he said.

The city government has yet to decide if it will push through with the Grand Street Parade and Grand Float Parade scheduled on February 29 and March 1 respectively.

"There’s still no definitive decision... We would just like to be proactive about this," the mayor said.

Magalong earlier said that while Baguio City has yet to record any cases of novel coronavirus, the local government remains vigilant.

The respiratory virus that originated from Wuhan, China has killed at least 200 people, and infected nearly 10,000 others worldwide.

The Philippines banned flights to and from the Hubei province a day after Health officials said a female tourist from China tested positive for the deadly coronavirus strain.

The Department of Health is monitoring at least 31 possible carriers of the virus in the Philippines.

- report from Michelle Soriano, ABS-CBN News