After allegations of fake Covid-19 reports issued by a private lab during Kumbh Mela did rounds, the Uttarakhand government has ordered investigations. Other labs too are likely to come under the scanner, an IE report said.
Kumbh Mela 2021, held from April 1 to April 30, saw lakhs of devotees gathering at the ghats of Haridwar, Dehradun, Tehri, and Pauri districts for ‘Shahi Snan’ and other festivities. When a person residing in Punjab during the Kumbh reported to ICMR that his Aadhaar and mobile number were misused for a fake Covid-19 test, the authoritative body flagged the case with a senior Health Department officer in Uttarakhand, calling for prompt action.
The health officials ordered a preliminary inquiry into all Covid-19 tests conducted by the lab during the mela dates and on finding more such fake reports issued misusing ID details of several people, recommended a detailed inquiry on the same.
The lab under scanner was assigned with the task of conducting Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) of devotees and volunteers by Kumbh authorities in the Mela area. 24 such labs were assigned the duty to conduct RAT by the district administration and Kumbh Mela administration after the state High court set a daily target of 50,000 tests during the Mela.
A three-member committee under the Chief Development Officer has been constituted to conduct the inquiry who will investigate all the private labs and submit a report in 15 days time, informed the Haridwar District Magistrate C Ravishankar. If the allegations are proved to be true, FIR will be registered against the labs involved and further action will be taken in this regard, added the DM.
According to Mela Health Officer Arjun Singh Sengar, 10 ICMR-approved private labs were roped in to conduct 2.52 lakh Covid tests, including both RT-PCR and RAT, during the 30 days of Kumbh Mela; cumulative Rs 9.45 crore was spent on the same. A nodal officer was further deputed to supervise the Specimen Referral Form IDs and other data before the payment went out to the labs. The lab under the scanner is yet to receive the payment.
A senior official, however, called this a typing error in many cases due to the wrong submission of IDS and contact details to the server that sends SMS. He further said that in many cases the sample giver provides wring details to authorities to avoid contact tracing if found Covid-19 positive.