Centre's Coronavirus Hotline Dies As Numbers Cross 1 Lakh

From April 21, the Health ministry had stopped providing district wise coronavirus case data (File)

New Delhi:

The information flow from the government on the coronavirus pandemic in the country has slowed down to a trickle as the numbers spiraled. From a detailed briefing to the media by health ministry officials, which started sometime in the mid-March, the communication has shrunk to a press release every day.

Asked if the movement towards press statements was a change in policy, a top official in the health ministry told NDTV, “Every day the government is making press statements”.

In the last week of March, the government had asked the Supreme Court to direct the media to publish only the official version of the coronavirus situation.

No gag order was issued. But the judges did say that they do not “intend to interfere with the free discussion about the pandemic, but direct the media refer to and publish the official version about the developments”.

The court also directed the government to issue daily bulletins through all media, including social media and other forums to clear the doubts of people.

The last press briefing by the government took place on May 11, when the number of cases in the country was around 67,152.

But the tapering off has been on while, with the ministry briefings being curtailed to only on weekdays that too except Wednesday’s from April 22.

Three days later, officials of the Indian Council of Medical Research — the country’s nodal body in the fight against the virus stopped attending briefings.

Earlier, from April 25, the ICMR had stopped providing test data they collated from labs and individual tested data.

From April 21, the Health ministry had stopped providing district wise case data. From twice a day, status updates on total cases started coming once a day from May 6.

On March 29, the National Health Portal or NHP’s COVID-19 dashboard was taken down from public view. The National Disaster Management Authority’s COVID-19 dashboard was taken down from public view on May 3.

On May 10, state-wise graphs on the health ministry website were also removed from public view.

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