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MANKAYAN, Benguet– The municipal government temporarily suspended the supposed launching of the paragliding activities in the municipality following the sudden surge in the number of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the Lepanto mine camp causing concern among municipal officials and health authorities.
Mayor Frenzel A. Ayong reported the launching and assessment of the paragliding in the municipality will be moved to next year to allow for the municipal government to focus on efforts to control the further spread of the deadly virus in the municipality.
While there has been an initial assessment by experts that paragliding is feasible in the municipality as an added tourist attraction, the mayor pointed out it is appropriate to temporarily suspend the supposed launching and assessment of the activities scheduled this month for the municipal government to concentrate its efforts to curb the spread of the virus in the mine camp and other neighboring communities.
Initially, paragliding experts disclosed that paragliding is feasible in the municipality where the identified takeoff site is the Lepanto air strip and paragliders are expected to land on the rehabilitated tailings pond of Lepanto then paragliders can also enjoy horseback riding from the rehabilitated Lepanto tailings pond to their desired route in the area.
On the other hand, Ayong stipulated that paragliders could also use motorized paragliding equipment from the Lepanto air script up to the vegetable farms in upper Mankayan which is one of the scenic tourist destinations in the municipality.
He pointed out that the easing up on tourism can wait for a while to allow the local government to work on how to control the spread of the virus in crowded areas, like the mine camp, to prevent the any untoward incident that might compromise the local health care system.
Earlier, the Lepanto management implemented an alternate work schedule among its over 1,700 mine workers as part of the recommended strategic measures to abate the uncontrolled spread of the virus among the mine workers.
According to him, the COVID cases in the Lepanto mine camp started to surge over the past several days that compelled the municipal government, in close coordination with the Lepanto management, to implement lockdowns in some areas where there were clustering of cases to prevent the spread of the virus in other bunkhouses nearby.
Mayor Ayong revealed the availability of the antigen test kits also contributed for the early detection of the virus and screening of possible, suspected and probable cases that also allowed the enforcement of preventive measures that helped in containing the spread of the virus among the greater number of the population in the mine camp.
Apex Mining Company, Inc., the mother company of Itogon Suyoc Resources, Inc., donated 200 antigen test kits each to the mining towns of Mankayan and Itogon as part of the assistance the company is extending to its host communities to help in containing the spread of the virus in their areas of jurisdiction.