Some glaring gaps have been identified in COVID-19 testing records in the Indian state- Bihar and in order to verify the testing data, Bihar Health Department Saturday has made an announcement of setting up 10 teams.
The records from two districts- Jamui and Sheikhpura showed that in some cases, people who were tested had mobile numbers in their data that were owned by unrelated people.
Some glaring gaps have been identified in COVID-19 testing records in the Indian state- Bihar and in order to verify the testing data, Bihar Health Department Saturday has made an announcement of setting up 10 teams. These teams will randomly verify Covid testing data from all 38 districts in the state, a report by The Indian Express noted. In over 26 districts, a probe began and medical officers in charge of Primary Health Centres were sent show-cause notices. It is to note that The IE began this investigation and visited six PHCs in Sheikhpura, Jamui and Patna and the testing records for January 16, 18 and 25 were accessed. As many as 885 entries were tracked at these PHCs and upon conversation with many staffers, it was found that basic data protocol was bypassed in order to meet the daily target. It included fudged mobile numbers along with fake names and dodgy entries, the report noted.
The records from two districts- Jamui and Sheikhpura showed that in some cases, people who were tested had mobile numbers in their data that were owned by unrelated people. With such errors in the information, it is likely that contact-tracing during a pandemic becomes challenging, especially in COVID-19 positive cases.
State Health Department Principal Secretary Pratyaya Amrit has acknowledged this and addressed the irregularities that were found in Bihar’s districts. Amrit said that the departmental enquiry has begun against the ones held accountable and it will be ensured that those found guilty must face action. He said that they have completed random probes in 26 districts and they also find some discrepancies in several phone numbers. While physical probes have indicated that tests were actually conducted, the medical officers are served with show-cause notice for improper data preparation. “Offenders cannot undermine the efforts of those who risked their everything for countering the onslaught of the Coronavirus infection,” the report quoted Amrit as saying.
Among 885 testing entries that have been tabulated, only 230 confirmed getting tested. There were 325 entries which had 10 zeroes under mobile numbers or the contact columns were just left blank. Nine officials have also been suspended.
Meanwhile, an official in Begusarai said that they cannot risk anything and give in under the pressure of meeting the testing target. Now they are also asking for some documents and jotting down complete addresses just in case of phone number absence. This way, people can be traced. It is to note that the state is testing around 20,000 RT-PCR samples in a day and some districts have done away with daily antigen testing targets.