Confusion shrouded media houses and the general public after the Ministry of Health and Population today issued a press release stating that five new coronavirus cases were confirmed, taking the national tally to 250.
Most of the major national dailies rushed to publish the report as soon as the Ministry issued the press release at 7:45 am today. They have now updated the news with correction.
While thousands of people shared the news, the Ministry issued another press release stating that the total number of coronavirus infections stood at 245.
The freshly issued press release neither apologised for the error nor even acknowledged that there had been a mistake.
Moreover, the first press release issued by the Ministry reads the date and time of publishing as Jestha 1, 7:45 am whereas the second press release issued later reads the date and time as Jestha 1, 6:15 am.
It was only at 10:15 am that the Ministry issued a third press release stating that it had included the old five cases as additional ones.
It is true that the Ministry of Health has been shouldering heavy responsibilities at the time of a worsening health crisis, but the Ministry staffers should have the time to at least acknowledge their mistake and ease people’s confusion in a timely manner.
The Health Ministry in Kathmandu insisted upon centralizing information dissemination from the Valley while state governments are required to share all their updates on Covid-19 with the central government without caring for their provincial residents’ right to information.
To add to the plight, the Health Ministry has restricted the entry of journalists inside the Ministry premises.
According to sources, Wednesday’s meeting of the Ministry had instructed its staffers to not meet or give out information to journalists.
The restriction in entry is only applicable to journalists while the in and outflow of other people into the Health Ministry is regular.
As the central government — after spending years and billions of rupees to establish federalism — fights tooth and nail to retain its grip on centralized power, its struggle in management spills out through blunders as such.