NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is temporarily closing Bohol’s peak attraction: the Chocolate Hills and 16 other forest and protected areas in Bohol in a desperate bid to deny the dreaded corona virus disease the chance to infect other people who may be near a sick person on tour.
This as the DENR has also temporarily closed all eco-tourism activities within the protected areas in the province, in another attempt to deny the entry and contain the spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The temporary closure takes effect March 18 and lasts until March 31, according to a notice to the public issued by Bohol Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Charlie Fabre.
Expressly included in the temporary closure order are all eco-tourism activities within the Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape, Chocolate Hills Natural Monuments, Loboc Watershed Forest Reserve, Alejawan-Cansulay-Anibongan River Watershed and Forest Reserve.
Alburquerque-Loay-Loboc Protected Landscape and Seascapes, Panglao Island Protected Seascape, Cabilao and Sandingan Island Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve, Pangangan Island Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve, Tubigon group of islets and Wilderness Areas, Clarin group of islates and Wilderness Areas.
Inabanga-Buenavista Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve and Wilderness Areas, Getafe mangro Swamp ForestReserve and Wilderness Area, Ubay Mangrove Forest Reserve, Talibon group of Islands Protected Landscape.
Candijay-Anda-Mabini Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve and Wilderness Area and President Carlos P. Garcia Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve and Wilderness Area.
The temporary closure, according to PENRO Fabre is in compliance with the Presidential proclamation 922 which president Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued declaring a state of national health emergency all over the country.
The outbreak of the corona virus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) constitutes an emergency that threatens national security as the Department of Health admitted the first local transmission of the virus which originated in the Wuhan Province of mainland China.
Said to be easily transmittable through pneumonia droplets which can be expelled through coughing or sneezing of an person infected with the virus, the novel virus has world’s best scientists scrambling to find its vaccine, and has not been generally successful as of now.
With the mode of transmission identified, government health authorities have pushed on proper handwashing by soap and water of alcohol based sanitizer is unavailable.
The government has also put up bans on mass gatherings, suspended classes and adopted flexible work arrangements to limit the number of people in one place as a certain time with its social distancing policy.
The temporary closure of these eco-tourism activities also coincide with the continuing spread of the virus that has since affected 172 of the world’s countries. (rahchiu/PIA-7/Bohol)