Sonia Faleiro in MIT Technology Review:
The sun had already set on March 7 when Nooh Pullichalil Bava received the call. “I have bad news,” his boss warned. On February 29, a family of three had arrived in the Indian state of Kerala from Italy, where they lived. The trio skipped a voluntary screening for covid-19 at the airport and took a taxi 125 miles (200 kilometers) to their home in the town of Ranni. When they started developing symptoms soon afterward, they didn’t alert the hospital. Now, a whole week after taking off from Venice, all three—a middle-aged man and woman and their adult son—had tested positive for the virus, and so had two of their elderly relatives.
PB Nooh, as he is known, is the civil servant in charge of the district of Pathanamthitta, where Ranni is located; his boss is the state health secretary. He’d been expecting a call like this for days. Kerala has a long history of migration and a constant flow of international travelers, and the new coronavirus was spreading everywhere. The first Indian to test positive for covid-19 was a medical student who had arrived in Kerala from Wuhan, China, at the end of January. At 11:30 that same night, Nooh joined his boss and a team of government doctors on a video call to map out a strategy.