This winter, it is not the water pipes blocked by ice that are leaking. Important information during pandemic times when people are glued to the television, the only source of first-hand information, are leaking too.
On Sunday night, a detailed lockdown unlocking strategy and activities that would be allowed from the National Covid-19 Taskforce went viral. Many were convinced that the three-page document, with the government seal, was final. Before it could be confirmed as to whether it was only a document work in progress, the document had reached almost every Bhutanese with a social media app.
The government stopped mainstream media from publishing it on the grounds that they should not be party to informal sources. The media could wait. Changes in the final strategy could confuse people, some of whom are eagerly waiting for relaxation.
If the leak was deliberate to test the mood or the reaction of the people, there was not much hue and cry even with the movement in the capital city and Paro strictly restricted. The two dzongkhags are in the red zone. People know the severity of the pandemic this time and are ready to bear the inconveniences.
The first lockdown was for 21 days. Many expected that dzongkhags with full-blown community transmission, Thimphu and Paro, would not open at least before 21 days. The government extended the lockdown until after Nyilo, January 2. It said that the strategy would be announced after the festivities of New Year and Nyilo.
The gap or lack of clear information made people, locked inside homes and eagerly waiting for the prime minister or the health minister on the national television for information, impatient. The information that got leaked by some excited officials privy to the document didn’t help.
Meanwhile, social media has become the preferred platform for information sharing, even crucial information. Not many differentiate real or false information. The risk is when leak happens, especially if it is half-cooked information. Perhaps it could be a lesson for all of us in our dependence on social media.
The information leaked didn’t have any repercussion this time. The ice thawed and the flow of information is now clear. The Prime Minister last evening announced a detailed unlocking strategy starting with the dzongkhags without any positive cases, green zones.
The request is to cooperate with the strategies the government worked out with medical and other experts. Knowing the risk, the people had been cooperative so far. Like the Prime Minister said, if we are to succeed in this fight against the virus, it is the responsibility of all of us to stay in the fight together.
The worst days are gone, but the battle is not over yet. A few more days of staying together could achieve the purpose of the lockdown and controlling the disease. Everybody wants this to end. We can end this together.