Since the first outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019, it has now been reported in around 88 countries today. Bhutan has unfortunately found itself in this list after the first confirmed COVID-19 case was reported in the country early on Friday.
The patient is a 76-year-old American tourist, who had arrived in the country on flight from Guwahati, India on March 2. The patient, who has been found to have fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath, has presently been isolated in the COVID-19 hospital and is on oxygen support.
The official confirmation of the case was made through Facebook page of the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Health. The government has now also announced closure of schools and institutes in Thimphu, Paro and Punakha for two weeks with effect from yesterday. Similarly, it has announced about imposing two-week temporary restriction on all incoming tourists with immediate effect. Additionally, all international conferences and seminars to be held in the country in the coming two weeks have also been postponed.
Following the confirmation of the case, discussions have emerged again on social media– some are blaming the government that they have been indifferent to their calls on social media to ban tourists until COVID-19 is contained and some demanding that the government should be held accountable.
Is it really because of the government’s lukewarm response that we are in this predicament now? Is it really because of this tardiness that we have not been able to avert this problem? Whatever it may we, the important thing now is that we need to understand that playing the blame game is not going to help anyone. This is not the time to play blame game, but instead attempt to seek a solution together.
More than the disease, it’s also the time that we need to understand to not give way to unwarranted rumors and hearsays that tend to create fear and panic in the community. After the official confirmation of the first COVID case on Friday morning, queue of people were already outside medical shops and pharmacies looking for facemasks and hand sanitizers. After these shops ran out of facemasks and sanitizers, the rush was then for strips of Sinarest and Vitamin C tablets.
It was a similar situation at the fuel depots in Thimphu too. The traffic in the main town had been brought almost to a halt yesterday as queue of vehicles waited to fuel their cars. This was also because of some unfounded rumors that fuel won’t be available in the approaching days because of the COVID case.
Amidst fear about this deadly disease, our doings like the above are only aggravating the situation. Let us not panic because of some unfounded rumors and instead keep calm. Let us believe in and let the experts and the agencies concerned do their jobs. And let us do our part by maintaining good personal health and hygiene of ourselves and the people near and dear to us, and by doing and following what we have been asked to do so.