Bihar Covid testing scam: fake cell numbers, fake name, and fake entries
The story published by Indian Express unfurled the Covid testing scam in Bihar which showed how the state got successful in achieving high Covid negative numbers. As per the last month’s data extracted for three days from six Primary Health Centres (PHC) in Bihar’s Jamui, Sheikhpura and Patna, there appeared striking irregularities in data. At the time of testing, the candidates have to provide their name, age and mobile number. The data of all the residents, who came for testing, is complied and sent to Patna where the authorities add it along with data from other districts.
In the case of Jamui, it showed that 588 residents were tested for Covid, everyone tested negative. When the data was observed closely, it was found that in order to meet the daily targets, the local health authorities bypassed the protocol and fudged the data by adding fake cell numbers, fake names, and fake information. In some cases, it was also found that the authorities did it in order to extract profits out of unused testing kits.
The Express reported: “Of 230 entries for Barhat in Jamui, only 12 entries were confirmed tested. At the Sikandara PHC in the district, only 43 of 208 entries were confirmed tested. And in Jamui Sadar, only 65 of the 150 entries could be verified against data recorded.”
In case of In Sikandara, it was found that the mobile numbers mentioned against 16 entries were invalid. Whereas in case of Barhat, only one mobile number was mentioned against 26 entries, who appeared to have got the RT-PCR tests done. The number belonged to Baiju Rajak. When the newspaper reached out to him, he said, “I have no connection to any of these people, no one in my family has got tested for Covid.” There were many like Rajak who had never undertaken the tests but their number and information was listed in data.
One of the PHC staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “Since September, we have been filling most of the columns with any names and numbers we can access because we are under pressure to meet or get close to the daily target.”
When the authorities were asked about the existing discrepancies in the data, Jamui District Programme Manager (DPM) Sudhanshu Lal said: “We have received some complaints of Covid test data fudging. We have also withheld the salary of the Barhat PHC medical officer-in-charge. We will initiate action against any official found guilty in our investigation.”
Sheikhpura DPM Shyam Kumar Nirmal told the reporters: “In the initial stages, several patients did not give their correct numbers. But we will find out how an Uttar Pradesh number was used.”
Pratayaya Amrit, Principal Secretary, Bihar Health Department, told the Indian Express, “We will get this investigated at all levels. We are asking civil surgeons to explain how such things are happening. We are also proposing to link such tests to Aadhar. We are introducing this system for the Covid vaccination”.