Residents of Thimphu and those watching closely, the developments in the capital city, were alarmed when the health ministry announced the first Covid-19 positive case in Thimphu, an individual who had come into contact with a Phuentsholing positive case.
The fact that the man was already in a quarantine facility didn’t matter as it was the first case in Thimphu since the lockdown and everybody was concerned with a local transmission. Hundreds of contacts were traced since the increasing number of cases in Phuentsholing. People were worried.
The incomplete information from the health ministry didn’t help and people started speculating. However, by evening, the Prime Minister clarified and provided details to calm the capital’s residents. The man had been traced even before he reached Thimphu and quarantined. As of now, there is no local transmission in Thimphu.
Speculation or rumours during a pandemic is not good. It could cause unnecessary panic among the public and bring out people who are diligently observing the lockdown rules. Rumours and speculation started when information or clear complete information is not shared. As a society that still relies on gossip and rumour, real time information could only allay fears and contains rumours. Most of the people are at home wanting for information and expecting for the best. They have a lot of questions and even suspect authorities when information lacks clarity.
With social media playing a role in creating confusion and spreading rumours, mainstream media is looked upon to provide correct and timely information. It is a problem when mainstream media has to rely on what is shared on social media. By late afternoon yesterday, the rumour was that there is a community transmission in the capital and that there would be stricter lockdown. People were confused as the movement of people was relaxed the day before.
The Prime Minister thanked the people for their cooperation. We can expect better cooperation if people are better informed and not left to speculate. The Situation in the dzongkhags is better, except Phuentsholing, which is declared a Red Zone. Parops are confused as the number of positive cases reached four after a couple, who came into contact with an index case, had come to Paro from Phuentsholing.
In other dzongkhags, the problems are manageable. We are only worried about feed for cattle, poultry or not being able to sell farm produce. However, in a pandemic and a lockdown, these are important information and have to be shared to find solutions. It would help no one to stop a reporter from reporting or asking them to write explanation letters for reporting on the shortage of poultry feeds. If, for instance, Tsirang, the egg capital of Bhutan has an uninterrupted supply of feed, the rest of the country will have eggs.
If the report can alert authorities and help poultry farmers get feed, it is a good solution during a crisis. Everybody is together in fighting the pandemic. Nobody is blaming anyone for not doing his or her job. Together we can find solutions to all the problems and inconveniences caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.