On Friday, an audio clip started becoming viral – in the audio a convincing man said his neighbour, who is a staff at Norvic Hospital has confirmed six cases of the novel coronavirus at the hospital. “This news is real – it is not fake. The epidemic has already spread across Nepal”, he continues in the video.
For the critical listener, first hint which questions the video’s credibility was ‘how can Norvic Hospital conduct a test for coronavirus?’ The only facility equipped to conduct a test for coronavirus in Nepal is the National Public Health Laboratory in Teku, Kathmandu.
By Saturday, the audio clip had been shared thousands of times – so much so, it got into the hands of Nepal Police too.
An investigation by Nepal Police’s Central Cyber Bureau traced the source of the audio clip to 20 year old Bibek Thapa Magar. Thapa who is a member of National Student Union is also the CEO and news-editor of Jhorle News. According to Nepal Police, he created the audio clip with an intention to make his news website popular – he was hungry for engagement and reach on his social media handle and website.
He has been remanded in police custody, and further investigation is ongoing.
Nepal Police continues to remind people of their responsibility during such testing times – they have requested to factually verify all incoming information before sharing it with their family and friends. Such messages are aimed at spreading panic within the community – that is the last thing we would want at the moment.
Meanwhile, the public is urged to practice maximum possible precautions – public are reminded to practice safe and hygienic habits, to avoid mass gatherings, practice social distancing, and contact their local doctor in case of flu like symptoms.
The government has also listed the following people as sample test contact persons at NPHL, Teku, Kathmandu.
1) Dr. Shrawan K. Mishra : 9851168220
2) Dr. Ranjit Shah : 9872701465
3) Mr. Rajesh K. Gupta : 9851239988
4) Mr. Dinesh Thapa Magar : 9823168540 (Nights only)
5) Mr. Naresh Thapa Magar : 9803152149 (Nights only)