The Uttarakhand government on Wednesday, 16 June, ordered the Haridwar district administration to register an FIR against private laboratories accused in the COVID testing scam during the Kumbh Mela.
State government’s spokesperson Subodh Uniyal was quoted as saying, “Order issued to file case against labs from Delhi and Haryana, which conducted testing at five places in Haridwar during Kumbh Mela.”
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.
Addressing allegations of fake COVID testing during the Kumbh festival, 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.”
Twenty two private labs had been hired to conduct testing during the festival, with a target of 50,000 daily tests, set by Uttarakhand High Court.
Meanwhile, payment to all the labs that were hired for conducting COVID tests has been withheld for the time being due to the ongoing investigation, Haridwar District Magistrate C Ravishankar had said at the time, NDTV reported.
Despite warnings that the festival might become a super spreader event, the Kumbh Mela was held with at least 70 lakh devotees taking part in the religious gathering.
About 2,600 devotees had tested positive out of the nearly two lakh tests conducted by medical personnel during the religious gathering, according to news agency PTI.
The religious festival was held amid the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, from 1 to 30 April. It was spread across parts of Haridwar, Dehradun, Tehri and Pauri districts.
(With inputs from PTI, The Times of India and NDTV.)