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Bihar: To achieve daily target, lab technician resends discarded swab samples for testing, suspended

The accused staff has been placed under suspension but the incident amply exposes how a massive data fraud is being carried out by the health workers to hoodwink the health department at this critical time.

Statesman News Service | Patna |

In a shocking incident, a lab technician posted with a health centre in Bihar sent the discarded swab samples for RT-PCR tests again just to achieve the daily target of testing as asked by the health department to know the level of Covid infection.

The accused staff has been placed under suspension but the incident amply exposes how a massive data fraud is being carried out by the health workers to hoodwink the health department at this critical time.

As per the report, the primary health centre, Kalyanpur located in Samastipur district had been given the target of carrying out RT-PCR testing of at least 160 people, in addition to conducting rapid antigen test of at least 300 persons per day to check the level of Covid infections in the area. The target was fixed in view of the surging infections across the state when the infection rate has now jumped to 3.13 per cent from earlier 0.37 per cent.

Instead of collecting genuine samples from the villagers, the local lab technician Dinesh Jha, however, picked up the old swab samples thrown into a container and allegedly resent them for the RT-PCR test to achieve his daily target last week. The story came to light when as many as 115 people tested “positive” on a single day.

The incident alarmed the health department as the local civil surgeon Dr Satyendra Prasad Gupta ordered an inquiry into the matter. During the inquiry, it came to light that just a few villagers had reached the health centre to give their swab samples on that particular day, ie January 5. The inquiry team also contacted some villagers whose mobile numbers were mentioned in the health register and to their dismay the majority of them denied having visited the health centre on that very day.

In the course of inquiry, the inquiry team came to know that lab technician Jha had resent discarded swab samples for RT-PCR testing to complete the daily target. “We have suspended the accused lab technician and further investigation is on to identify other health workers involved in the fraud,” the civil surgeon said adding based on the probe report, severe legal action would be taken against them.

Similar data fraud had come to light last month when a primary health centre located in Karpi block of Arwal district claimed to have “vaccinated” top political personalities such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra during the continuing vaccination against Covid-19.

The “fraud” came to light during the house survey conducted by the health department to find out if all the eligible persons were vaccinated. It was during the inspection that persons like Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Priyanka Chopra were found to have been “vaccinated” at the additional primary health centre located in Karpi block.