One in Every Four COVID Tests During Kumbh Mela ‘Fake’, Probe On
At least one lakh COVID test reports were reportedly forged by a private agency during Kumbh festival in Haridwar.
Addressing allegations of fake COVID testing during the Kumbh festival held in Haridwar, Health officer Arun Singh Sengar on Tuesday, 15 June, said, “It has been taken into cognisance that wrong data was entered, it's being investigated.”
Speaking to ANI, he added, “Facts will come out after probe and if wrong data was fed, action will be taken.”
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Minister Subodh Uniyal has said that two people were arrested and a company was blacklisted following an initial probe into the matter.
“When complaints came in, I visited a check post and found five RTPCR negative reports under same ID generated within 30 minutes. After probe, two persons were arrested and the company was blacklisted,” news agency ANI quoted the minister as saying.
He added, “government has issued order to the chief medical officers (CMOs) to investigate companies empanelled to conduct RTPCR tests to check the number of kits purchased and bills submitted. Action will be taken after inquiry.”
Reacting to the reports, Haridwar CMO SK Jha said, “It would not be right to comment (on the matter) right now as it's being investigated. If any wrong has happened, it will be revealed in a probe.”
What Had Happened?
At least one lakh COVID-19 test reports were forged by a private agency during Kumbh festival in Haridwar, revealed an investigation by government officials, reported The Times of India.
According to the report, a single phone number was used to register 50 people, while one antigen test kit was shown to have tested 700 people.
“Addresses and names were fictional. Almost 530 samples were taken from ‘House Number 5’ in Haridwar. Is it possible for a house to have 500 residents,” an official told the newspaper.
"Phone numbers were fake too. People in Kanpur, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and 18 other locations, shared the same phone number," he added.
The Kumbh Effect
The religious festival, which saw lakhs of devotees congregating amid the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, was held from 1 to 30 April. It was spread across parts of Haridwar, Dehradun, Tehri and Pauri districts.
Of the one lakh tests conducted, 177 were COVID positive – with a positivvity rate of just 0.18 percent. However, the positivity rate in Haridwar in April was 10 percent.
The probe was initiated after a Punjab resident received an SMS that his sample had been collected for a COVID-19 test. He was not visiting Kumbh. The resident reportedly flagged the matter to ICMR through email alleging that his Aadhaar and mobile number had been misused for a fake test.
The administration roped in 24 private labs – 14 by the district administration and 10 by the Kumbh mela administration – for conducting random testing of Kumbh visitors.
At least 50,000 samples were said to be tested every day.
According to health secretary Amit Negi, the investigation report has been sent to Haridwar DM.
"Several irregularities have been found. We will take action after receiving a detailed report from the DM in 15 days," he added.
(With inputs from ANI and The Times of India)
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