Organizers of the 48th Paraw Regatta Festival postponed all its events set from February 23 to March 1, 2020, as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Mayor Jerry P. Treñas made the announcement Wednesday after consulting with the Department of Health (DOH), City Health Office (CHO), Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. (IFFI) and the Iloilo Paraw Regatta Foundation (IPRF).
“Just to be sure, since we are after our constituents (health), especially those who are more prone to get this coronavirus, we decided to postpone all activities for the Paraw Regatta,” he added.
Quoting Dr. Roland Fortuna, the city focal person on 2019-nCoV, Treñas said that since the travel ban to China and its Special Administrative Regions was implemented on February 2, then the 14 days quarantine period will still be until February 16.
The sailing competition, which is one of the highlights of the Paraw Regatta Festival, gathers participants from as far as Boracay Island to join the race of double outrigger sailboats locally known as “paraw” in the 30-kilometer race course starting from Villa, Arevalo district towards Guimaras and back to Villa.
Other events lined up for the festival are the Slalom Race, Sinamba sa Regatta and Miss Paraw Regatta, among others.
The mayor said they will decide if they will still hold the Paraw Regatta Festival if the weather is favorable in March.
“I hope that they will understand that we are doing this as a precautionary measure, especially because there are persons under investigation (PUIs) here in our city,” he added.
Iloilo City has two PUIs, all Chinese nationals.
Meanwhile, Fortuna met with public and private school officials on Wednesday to “strengthen” efforts in schools.
The Department of Education (DepEd) earlier came out with its own advisory that there will be no major events of school children this whole month of February.
Treñas also urged schools, hotels, and other establishments not to hesitate in asking for help as the city government is ready to extend assistance if they have problems.
The city government and the Department of Health (DOH) are looking into using the La Paz Maternity and Reproductive Health Clinic in La Paz district as an isolation area in case there is a surge in cases.
The mayor said they will be asking the clinic to close down just in case an isolation area is needed. The clinic operates as a reproductive center specializing in child and maternal health, and newborn screening among others.
During the dengue outbreak last year, its second floor was used by the city government as a hydration unit for dengue patients.
At the same time, the city government is also talking with the Office of Civil Defense to use the regional evacuation center when needed.
On the other hand, the city government will augment personnel of the undermanned Bureau of Quarantine. The city government is just waiting for the number, the mayor added.
One ambulance of the Iloilo City Emergency Response has been dedicated to transporting patients suspected to be infected with the coronavirus.
The local government has also provided its health personnel with personal protective equipment (PPE), N95 masks and sanitizers.
“If necessary we will buy more,” he said.
“We are prepared. We try as much as possible to be prepared. We want to be ahead of the situation. Our focal person has been going around,” Treñas said. (PNA)