MoH urges people not to harass COVID-19 patients

Ministry of Health (MoH) is appealing to the general public to stop harassing the COVID-19 patients and their families. The nature of the disease is such that it is highly contagious and spreads without one’s knowledge. 

Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering said that positive patients are getting harassed as people figure out their identity, get their numbers and then start calling them blaming them for bringing the virus and making other unpleasant remarks.

Lyonchhen said that the patient does not even have the option of switching the phone off and has to attend to every call as it could be a call from the MoH contact tracing team trying to get more information from them.

This is not the time to blame each other, but rather a time to show empathy for those infected, states the appeal, adding that as a small nation under the benevolent leadership of the King, they must show collective solidarity and work towards defeating this invisible enemy, stated the appeal.

“Let us learn from His Majesty’s deeply caring and compassionate leadership. Furthermore, the ministry reminds the general public that those who indulge in such acts of harassment shall be dealt as per the law,” the appeal further states.

The Prime Minister during a press brief said that His Majesty is concerned about people identifying and calling the patients and families of positive cases and harassing them.

PM said, “It is our responsibility to understand and console those who are in need of our support, in particular COVID-19 patients during such times. It is good if one can help all the sentient being irrespective of who they are.”

It is not right and it is unacceptable to harass someone when one is fighting against a disease which can cause serious issue, Lyonchhen said, adding that, if one cannot do that at least in the times of need then it would be hard to even say that one belongs to a GNH country.

“One should realize how you would feel if it happens to be you who are being harassed for being in the same situation. We never know if that will happen one day. Therefore, I urge people to be more understanding and consider their situation and support each other. It is rather important to pray for their speedy recovery, the moment one wakes up,” he added.

Apart from such issues, he said that if anyone has a problem within a family or in a community then they could always approach the government, as it is their responsibility to sort it out and help the community with full dedication.

Meanwhile, the police said that they have not received any official report on the harassment matter, however, if they receive any complaint on this matter against anyone then they will be dealt as per the law.

Section 462 of the Penal Code of Bhutan (PCB) 2004 states, a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of harassment, if the defendant engages in a course of conduct that places a person in reasonable fear of emotional or mental distress.

The grading harassment shall be a petty misdemeanor as per section 463 of PCB 2004.

Social media is flooded with comments in support of the appeal made by the health ministry, whereby they want relevant agencies to trace the number of the harassers so they are held accountable as per the law.   

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