The COVID-19 pandemic is a worrying public health emergency for India. As is the case in such emergencies, both journalists and public health experts are thirsty for data about the Indian government’s efforts to contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Such data allows these groups to ascertain if the efforts are adequate. It also makes the non-expert citizen more confident that the government has a coherent, well-thought-out strategy in place, and encourages them to follow government advisories on interventions such as social-distancing.
Unfortunately, between the three central health agencies coordinating India’s COVID-19 responses today – the Ministry of Health, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) – there have been multiple instances of both miscommunication and opacity.
Here are some examples, and my experience dealing with them as a Bengaluru-based reporter.
My experiences reflect those of many other reporters, especially those based outside Delhi who don’t have physical access to officials from these agencies, and can’t ask questions at the ICMR’s and health ministry’s televised press conferences. This isn’t ideal because the practice of public health is impossible without clear communication.
Continue reading this article on The Wire Science, The Wire‘s new science section.
Priyanka Pulla is a science writer.