The government briefing on coronavirus will be held again today after an 8-day gap, sources said. At 4 pm press conference, the government said it would also discuss the preparedness for the cyclone Amphan, which will make landfall near the Bengal coast between 4 pm and 6 pm.
Over the last weeks, as the coronavirus numbers spiked, the information flow from the government had slowed down.
After detailed briefings by health ministry officials, which started sometime in the mid-March, the government switched to issuing a press release every day.
Asked if the switch was a change in policy, a top official in the health ministry told NDTV, “Every day the government is making press statements”.
The last press briefing took place on May 11, when the number of cases in the country was 67,152. The number across the country has now crossed 1,00,000, with the daily average hovering around 5000.
In March, the government had sought a Supreme Court order for the media to publish only the official version of the coronavirus situation. Without issuing a gag order, the judges said 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 asked the government to issue daily bulletins to all media, including social media.
The tapering off has been gradual. It started with taking off the COVID-19 dashboards of the National Health Portal and the National Disaster Management Authority.
From April 22, the ministry briefings were curtailed to weekdays. Three days later, officials of the Indian Council of Medical Research — the country’s nodal body in the fight against the virus – stopped providing their own data and then stopped attending the briefings.