CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) acute respiratory disease has no effect yet on the tourism industry in some parts of Northern Mindanao as health authorities prepare personnel and facilities in case it reaches the region.
In Misamis Oriental, there is no report yet of individuals having 2019-nCoV symptoms either from local residents or foreign nationals who are visiting the province, said lawyer Jeffrey Saclot, provincial tourism officer, on Tuesday (Feb. 4).
The 2019-nCoV originated in Wuhan, a city in Hubei province, China, and was first detected last December.
The coronavirus has since spread to other countries, including the Philippines where the Department of Health was able to confirm that a Chinese national died from the disease, the first fatality outside of China.
Saclot said that since foreign travelers form only a fraction of tourist arrivals to the province, the ban, especially on travellers coming from China, has no impact on the local tourism industry.
Another factor is that the Laguindingan Airport in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental, does not have international flights yet, he said.
He stated that foreign tourists constitute only five percent of the total number of arrivals in the province.
“Most of our tourists are locals. That’s why our tourism industry has not been affected by the travel ban due to the novel coronavirus,” Saclot said.
He added, however, that once the Laguindingan Airport caters to international flights, tourism officials will expect more foreign tourists to visit Misamis Oriental.
The province boasts of some of the most-visited tourist sites in the region, including the Divine Mercy Shrine in El Salvador City, the Flight 387 memorial park in Gingoog City, and the healing pool in Binuangan town.
Meanwhile, Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano has announced that he will provide thermal scanners to various points of entry in the province and in Cagayan de Oro.
According to the provincial information office, thermal scanners will be distributed to the Laguindingan Airport, Mindanao Container Terminal sub-port in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, and the Macabalan seaport in Barangay Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro.
The devices will be used to scan passengers entering the province and city.
In an interview, Emano said he will use the provincial government’s emergency funds to buy the scanners, although the gadgets’ cost is not yet specified.
Emano said he has included the Macabalan port among the ports that will be provided with thermal scanners because many of the passengers who disembark from ships coming from different parts of the country pass through or go to Misamis Oriental.
The governor said the thermal scanners will be distributed within the week to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the agency that manages the Laguindingan Airport, the Philippine Ports Authority, and the entity that handles the day-to-day operations at the Mindanao Container Terminal.
Carlo Dugaduga, the provincial information officer, said the amount allocated to obtain the scanners will be made known once the provincial health office (PHO) has already made the purchase.
Dugaduga said the PHO is still in the process of gathering prices of the thermal scanners.
On Monday, officials from different government agencies in Cagayan de Oro formed the Task Force Novel Coronavirus to address the threat posed by this deadly virus. (davaotoday.com)