The Uttarakhand government has ordered an investigation into allegations that fake Covid-19 test reports were issued by a personal laboratory roped certain conducting random tests during the Kumbh Mela, with other labs, too, likely to return under the scanner.
The grand church festival , which saw lakhs of devotees congregating during a pandemic year, was held from April 1 to 30 in a neighborhood spread across parts of Haridwar, Dehradun, Tehri and Pauri districts.
The issue of faux reports emerged when the ICMR flagged the case of a Punjab resident with a senior Health Department officer in Uttarakhand. Sources said this person, who was in Punjab during the Kumbh period, received an SMS that his sample had been collected for a Covid-19 test. He reported the interest ICMR through email alleging that his Aadhaar and mobile number had been misused for a fake test.
The Uttarakhand official conducted a preliminary inquiry into all the tests done by that specific lab during the mela and recommended an in depth inquiry after finding that more such fake reports were issued using details of various people.
The lab that’s facing the inquiry had been assigned the task of conducting Rapid Antigen tests within the mela area.
At least 24 private labs were roped in — 14 by the district administration and 10 by the Kumbh mela administration — for conducting random testing of Kumbh visitors.
Notably, the Uttarakhand supreme court had set a daily testing quota of fifty ,000 tests during the Kumbh Mela.
Haridwar District Magistrate C Ravishankar said a three-member committee under the Chief Development Officer has been constituted to conduct the inquiry.
He said tests done by other private labs also will be investigated on the idea of the findings from the primary lab. The committee has 15 days to submit its report.
The District Magistrate said that if the allegations of faux Covid reports are found true, an FIR are going to be registered and further action are going to be initiated.
Mela Health Officer Arjun Singh Sengar said the mela administration had roped in 10 ICMR-approved private labs which conducted over 2.52 lakh tests — including both RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests — during the Kumbh period. The cumulative payment owed to them is Rs 9.45 crore.
Sengar said a nodal officer has been deputed to see Specimen Referral Form IDs and other data before clearing the payment for the opposite labs. The lab under investigation, too, is yet to urge paid.
A senior official said: “Such matters have come to note within the past also and it had been found that telephone message goes to a different persons thanks to wrong submission of IDs and get in touch with details thanks to typing error. In many cases, people provide wrong details to authorities to avoid tracing if found positive.”