THE BAGUIO City government is “inclined” to approve the proposed extension of the Baguio Blooms Exposition and Exhibition by another month in consideration of the impact of the novel coronavirus threat, Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said in a statement posted on Saturday. Mr. Magalong said the “city government understands the plight of the exhibitors” and that an extended operation will allow them to “recover their investments in the activity,” which is one of the highlights of the annual Panagbenga Flower Festival. The Blooms expo opened February 1 and originally set until March 8. The festival’s opening parade on Feb. 1 was cancelled to avoid the risk of the coronavirus spread.

Meanwhile, the mayor also announced Friday the decision to postpone the festival’s main events scheduled Feb. 29 and March 1 following consultations with health authorities and stakeholders. The Cordillera Administrative Region office of the Department of Health (DoH) reported that as of Feb. 6, there were four persons under investigation (PUIs) for coronavirus, all confined in a health facility. DoH Regional Director Amelita M. Pangilinan said in a press briefing last Friday that the patients, three female and one male aged two, 27, 23 and 57, are in stable condition. They are Filipinos, unrelated, with two from Benguet, and one each from Baguio City and Mt. Province. They all have recent travel history to Hong Kong as tourists. Mr. Magalong also assured tourists that the local government as well as the Hotel and Restaurants Association of Baguio have put in place preventive as well as response measures for the virus threat. Ricardo B. Runez, Jr., director of the government’s Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC), said all local hospitals have been readied to handle suspected coronavirus cases. BGHMC is also one of the facilities that is expected to receive next week a machine that can verify the virus affliction within one hour while parallel testing at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine is being conducted. — MSJ