By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 6 March 2020
Concern over the new coronavirus has reached the Himalayas, including the village of McLeod Ganj, the capital of the Tibetan diaspora.
In response to the rapid spread of the new virus around the world and global health concerns, the exile Tibetan community is taking precautionary measures.
The office of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has cancelled a teaching scheduled on 9 March, and indefinitely postponed all his engagements.
Information Secretary of the Central Tibetan Administration, TG Arya, announced the postponement of a Global Summit of International Tibetan Associations, to be held in Dharamshala from 2-4 April.
The authorities of the Tibetan Children’s Village Schools have decided to suspend classes VIII and below in all the schools under their jurisdiction, sending children back home just two days after they returned from a two-month winter break. Senior students will remain to prepare for and take the board exams.
However, Secretary Arya announced that the 10 March Tibetan Uprising Day, commemorating the Tibetan resistance to Chinese occupation of Tibet, will be observed. He also said that the Five-Fifty Youth Forum scheduled in August will take place as planned.
There are no reports of any Tibetan in exile contracting the virus so far. The first case in Bhutan was that of a 76-year-old American tourist who arrived in the country on 2 March via India. India has 30 cases, including 15 Italian tourists.
The new 2019 novel coronavirus, officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), appeared in Wuhan, China, at the beginning of December 2019. It is believed that the virus first infected people at a seafood market in Wuhan and spread from there.
Reports say that the virus has spread to 86 more countries apart from China. A total of 98,373 confirmed infected, and 3,387 deaths (including 3,043 in China, 148 in Italy, 107 in Iran, 42 in South Korea, 12 in Japan, 12 in the US, seven in France, three in Spain, two each in Australia and Iraq, and one each in the Philippines, Switzerland, UK, San Marino, Thailand, and Taiwan) have been reported around the world as of 6 March 2020.