On the morning of January 1, as millions of people across India were staggering out of (or into) bed, an innocuous-looking piece of news appeared on page 18 of the Hindustan Times. In 78 words, it described a mystery virus that had affected 27 people in central China, with symptoms remarkably similar to the SARS outbreak that had claimed 800 lives in 2003.
In exactly two weeks, the virus made its way to the front page of the newspaper. At the time, one person had died of the yet-unnamed disease in China, and doctors were cautioning about the possibility of human-to-human transmission. HT newsroom discussions had already begun tossing around end-of-the-world possibilities.Read More