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At a time when the Coronavirus has become the most talked about issue, what we don’t need, at all, is spreading rumours of the disease.

We are lucky that the disease has not come to the country. There are officials working day and night to ensure that Bhutanese are safe. Even with limited resources and know-how, the priority is prevention. We know the consequences if it crosses the border.

Rumour is what we don’t need at this time. When a patient who died of pneumonia at the national referral hospital died, words spread that Bhutan registered its first Coronavirus case. Before that, the news of an Indian in Bodhgaya suspected of having the virus created panic among Bhutanese. A lot of Bhutanese visit the holy place. Most are illiterate pilgrims.

Even before that, a tourist with a fever was put up for monitoring. The rumour was that the tourist was the first case of Coronavirus victim in the country. Social media played a big part as rumours spread on Wechat, Messenger and WhatsApp.

The health ministry is trying to keep the nation updated on the virus as and when it can or when there is a suspect. If there is a piece of information that has to be shared, it should the updates and clarifications from the health ministry. The health minister is also updating the Parliament every Wednesday on the developments and what the ministry is doing.

When there is a crisis, people become vulnerable to fake news and rumours. As a gossip society, this is not helping us. People tend to believe and add fuel to the fire.

The virus, now named COVID-19, may be considered deadly, but there are simple things that we can do to prevent it. Wearing face masks and using hand sanitisers are some. If we can share, these are the messages that will help our people. It could prevent other diseases too. After all hygiene is much wanted among many Bhutanese.

The virus is taking his toll on China. The country is almost shut down in their attempt to control the spread of the virus that has now claimed lives of 1,600 as of 6pm yesterday.  Even as China fight to control the disease and save lives, what they need is support.

We should empathize with the people of China. A lot of internet memes and funny videos is being circulated on the plight of a nation and its people trying to fight an epidemic. The last thing we should be doing is making fun of the situation.

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