CANCELED. The Kalilangan Festival board on Monday afternoon (Feb. 10, 2020) decides to cancel all activities for the celebration of the 2020 Kalilangan Festival, set on February 22-27, amid the 2019 novel coronavirus scare. The board made the decision based on a directive from City Mayor Ronnel Rivera. (Photo grab from the Facebook Page of the City Tourism Council)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- The city government has canceled all activities for the celebration later this month of the 2020 Kalilangan Festival here amid fears on the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD).

The Kalilangan Festival board issued the decision on Monday afternoon as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of residents and visitors amid the rise in suspected cases of the contagious disease in parts of the country.

City Councilor Shandee Lilido Pestaño, the festival director, said the cancellation was mainly based on a directive from City Mayor Ronnel Rivera.

“The main consideration was the health and safety of our residents although we don’t have (any) confirmed case yet of the 2019-nCoV,” Pestaño told reporters.

In an official statement released Monday evening, the city government said the move stemmed from consultations with officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Health (DOH).

However, the local government said it would still proceed with the wreath-laying ceremony at the monument of Gen. Paulino Santos on February 27, the city’s 81st foundation anniversary, “to pay tribute and honor our city’s glorious history.”

The DOH had called for the cancellation of public events that would draw huge crowds to prevent the possible spread of the 2019-nCoV.

President Rodrigo Duterte and the DILG directed the LGUs to strictly comply with the measures set by the DOH and lead the implementation of prevention and control initiatives against the disease at the local level.

Pestaño said the mayor deemed it important for the city to be compliant with the DOH’s protocols “to make sure that our residents
will not be put to risk (of the 2019-nCoV).”

“We will still celebrate our foundation anniversary in a meaningful way,” she said.

As of Tuesday, the City Health Office reiterated that there were no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in the city.

The DOH-12 (Soccsksargen) reported on Sunday the region’s first case of a person under investigation in a hospital here while nine
others were being monitored for the disease. (PNA)