India coronavirus dispatch: Covid-19 and the misinformation pandemic

Topics Coronavirus | Lockdown

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel distributes masks among migrants, who had set forth to their respective villages on foot, amid a nationwide lockdown in the wake of the pandemic, near Delhi-UP Border. Photo: PTI
Here is a roundup of articles in Indian news publications on how India is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. From Karnataka and Kerala’s efforts towards managing a pandemic, to China beating the US in global diplomacy, and why your clothes might not be entirely safe from Covid-19 — read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Expert Speak

Coronavirus – Separating facts from hype: Is Covid-19 the most infectious, lethal virus, and does wearing a mask prevent transmission? Dr Pavitra Mohan, paediatrician, public health expert and co-founder of Basic Healthcare Services, and Arpita Amin, a public health professional, answer questions that are keeping you awake at night. Read more here.

Citizens Under Lockdown

An invisible population in India’s lockdown – Organ failure patients: The lockdown is blind to its people suffering from chronic illness owing to organ failure. These patients cannot get to hospitals on time or even regularly to receive the therapies and to pharmacies to get the critical drugs they need. Read more about how they are managing.

Classified as ‘non-essential’ services, small entrepreneurs struggling amid lockdown: A few own white ration cards and are able to procure basic grocery and income support from state governments, the rest do not qualify for the relief and are struggling to make ends meet. Read more here.

Long Reads

How Kerala’s immigration hotspot reined in Covid-19 spread: Rigorous and unrelenting surveillance by the district control team was how Pathanamthitta managed to minimise the transmission of the virus and ensure adherence to rules of quarantine among its residents. Read here about how a team of doctors, medical and field staff, and officials worked through days and nights to track the virus’ journey.


The misinformation pandemic is scarier than the COVID-19 pandemic: Misinformation has led to a shortage of masks, panic buying of groceries, and has pervaded industries such as poultry and seafood. As people get infected in the coming weeks, there is a need to be extremely cautious about information we believe. Read this piece to understand why.

China hasn’t just won its war on coronavirus. It’s also beating US in global diplomacy: Donald Trump doesn’t want China to backtrack on its trade deal commitments of buying agricultural produce from the US. Beijing is using the crisis to expand its own influence abroad. Read here to understand the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Managing Covid-19

The business of breathing: What does it take to build a ventilator, who can do it? A large number of ventilators may potentially be required soon, and the Railways-owned ICF has made an attempt to “reverse engineer” the machines. Private sector carmakers with no experience in this line, too, have climbed on to the bandwagon. Read about how India is building ventilators for the foreseeable future.

Karnataka CM writes on how the state is fighting the pandemic: The two challenges faced by the state are curbing the spread of Covid-19 and caring for people’s lives during the 21-day lockdown. Read more about what Karnataka’s CM has to say on the state’s management of the crisis.

Understanding Covid-19

For how long can virus in this outbreak survive on clothes? Studies have looked at how long coronavirus can survive on various surfaces — plastic, steel, cardboard — and even in the air, but none has looked at fabric yet. The virus probably does survive on clothes however, but it is not clear for how long. Read more to understand why.

Why asymptomatic coronavirus carriers aren’t as contagious but still a big danger: Countries that have successfully avoided being overwhelmed by Covid-19 have used extensive testing and contact tracing, so that healthy-feeling people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive would stay home for two weeks just in case. Read more here.


Is India’s healthcare system prepared to take on the coronavirus pandemic? What does ‘flatten the curve’ mean for India? Is a complete lockdown the ideal way to go about it? And how can our already strained health systems prepare for a widespread outbreak, if we do experience one in the coming weeks? Listen to this conversation between Yamini Aiyar and Dr Jishnu Das, professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy, and Georgetown University.

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