MUMBAI, March 11 -- Few situations test the resilience, efficacy and flexibility of a city's institutional architecture, especially its public health system, as a fast-spreading fear-invoking epidemic like the coronavirus or CoVID-19. Cities, after all, are potential hotbeds of epidemics given their large populations, public transit systems, and uncontrollable person-to-person interactions.

Whether a city manages to ride out an epidemic with minimum loss depends partly on its good fortunes, partly on its administrators who manage information and health networks, and partly on its citizens. Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus caused maximum havoc in December-January was tagged "an unprepared city" by researchers of Hong Kong Universit...