On January 30, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja rushed from Thiruvananthapuram to the Government Medical College at Thrissur, where a posse of officials was waiting for her. The team, which included the district collector, the district medical officer and three other ministers, had an urgent meeting that lasted until 2 am.
In the wee hours, Shailaja announced to a room full of mediapersons the first case of COVID-19 in India — a medical student who had returned from Wuhan and was admitted at the Thrissur medical college.
“When she arrived, no one could see any sign of stress on her face. She appeared calm as always,” a television reporter recollects the nerve-wracking moments.
Despite her packed schedule, Shailaja continued addressing the media every day from then on. The briefings were noted for its spectacular detailing, leaving no room for the media to speculate. She would patiently face TV cameras, answer all questions and give scientific and cogent explanations every time with clarity. When Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took over the mike by mid-March, he maintained the same level of transparency.
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