The prime minister yesterday met with the representatives from different agencies and members of disaster management authority to fully understand the situation and preparedness of the country in the wake of coronavirus outbreak in countries around the world.

It was not yet an emergency situation for Bhutan, he said. But, more important, he stressed on the need for the country to prepare so that there is seamless coordination in case the virus comes to Bhutan.

This is one significant message. The media have been doing their part to inform and educate the public. It is important that they are not seen as scaremongers.

What gives us comfort is that the government, health ministry in particular, is managing formal and informal entries into the country and taking precautionary steps and to avoid all possible risks.

Health advisories such as the need to practice hygiene and healthy habits can be very effective and the media will continue to write about the new findings and alert the nation. 

If that is seen as creating panic, we don’t care. At certain levels, creating panic may even be useful.

Countries around the world are banning travel and flights to China and monitoring visitors from that country. That is the level of emergency. 

China has begun working on constructing a major hospital to handle this problem in less than 10 days. That’s how big and devastating the novel disease is.

Because coronavirus is a new disease and we get to know only a little more about it from the new cases, the media has the responsibility to write about it so that our people know what they ought to do to keep the disease at bay. 

If this is reason enough to call the media scaremongers, we will execute our duty all the more zealously.

What we must know is that coronavirus infections have now surpassed the official number of SARS cases that erupted from China a few years ago. 

Chinese officials yesterday confirmed that the number of people infected by coronavirus in the country has reached 5,974. 

SARS infected 5,237 people in mainland China, and killed almost 800 people across the world between 2002 and 2003.

If anything should galvanise the global effort, it has to be the coronavirus. This is one of the biggest threats than often useless squabbling that the world leader focusing and are engaged in today. 

Wars can affect only a few countries and regions. Disease such as coronavirus can be by much more expensive.