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Month after Patiala man’s death, an SMS: ‘Sample collected for Covid-19 test’

According to sources, the name of the people who have not undergone any Covid-19 tests at the Health Centre of Kalo Majra, are listed as having tested negative on the ICMR website.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh | Updated: December 17, 2020 2:25:16 pm
Coronavirus news, Covid in US, Covid US December, Wuhan, Indian ExpressThe SMS read: “Rapid Antigen sample collected for Saleem Khan (Id:03041252464) SRFID 0304100252813 on Dec 2, 2020, 10:14 AM…" (Bloomberg Photo/Representational)

On October 31, Sonia, resident of a Patiala village, lost her husband Saleem Khan, 35, to Covid-19, at the Mission Hospital, Ambala. Over a month after that on December 2, Sonia, who is now in possession of her husband’s mobile phone, received a text message from ‘myGOV’, stating, “Rapid Antigen sample collected for Saleem Khan (Id:03041252464) SRFID 0304100252813 on Dec 2, 2020, 10:14 AM…You are advised to isolate yourself till the sample is tested and test report is available”. A PDF file, a link to which came with the message, carried the detailed test report which said that the testing was done at a Patiala laboratory.

The message came as a shocker for Sonia. Nearly six hours later, she received a text message from ‘PBGOVT’ at 3:03 pm that ‘Rapid Antigen sample taken for Saleem Khan, has come Negative’.

“How is this possible, that my husband’s sample was taken for Covid-19 test on December 2 at 10:14 am, when he had already died on October 31. I am totally confused, what is this going on?” she said, while speaking to The Indian Express.

Sonia added, “My husband who was working in a private factory, had some symptoms, after which he got tested for Covid-19 and sample was taken for RT-PCR test on October 14. He had then tested positive…My husband initially underwent treatment for Covid-19 at Rajpura Government Hospital, and later he was admitted to Mission Hospital at Ambala (Haryana), where he succumbed to Covid-19. We even took his death certificate from Grama Panchayat, Ambala.”

The Kalo Majra Health Centre link

The messages were shared by Sonia with her relatives. One among them, Ahilkar Saeed, a relative of Saleem Khan, clicked on the link that came with it and the PDF file that opened showed details of Saleem, with the address of patient mentioned as “Kalo Majra Niamatpur”. Saleem was a resident of Niamatpur village, while Kalo Majra is a separate village nearby. Both are in Patiala, while Kalo Majra has a health centre that covers over 100 villages in Rajpura tehsil, Patiala district.

Saeed thus doubted that the message could have been sent from Kalo Majra Community Health Centre.

After Saeed shared this information with The Indian Express, it was learnt from the sources that the messages are being sent from the Community Health Centre, Kalo Majra, Rajpura in Patiala district, to anonymous persons, allegedly to shore up the number of Covid-19 tests at the Health Centre. These alleged ‘fake’ Covid-19 test reports with ‘Negative’ results further get published on the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) website too, added sources.

According to sources, the name of the people who have not undergone any such Covid-19 tests at the Health Centre of Kalo Majra, are listed as having tested negative on the ICMR website.

Several others received such messages

Sonia was not the only one who was left confused after receiving sudden text messages related to the Covid-19 test samples. The Indian Express, possesses the list of the people who underwent the Antigen test from Kalo Majra Health Centre and the samples were sent to a government lab at Patiala, and the result was negative. Several in this list, it turns out, never visited the Health Centre at Kalo Majra.

When a few patients in the list were called up on their mobile phone numbers for confirmation by The Indian Express, it was found out that they also had no clue as how they have received the message for Covid-19 samples collection at the Health Centre, whereas they had never visited the said Health Centre.

Satnam Singh, 44, a resident of village Janetpur at Derabassi, received message of sample collected for Rapid Antigen test on November 21, 2020, at 12:10 pm, and he was asked to remain in isolation. However, later in the evening, he received another text message stating that he has tested ‘Negative’.

“On November 21, 2020, I had gone to Banur to attend cremation ceremony of a girl who had died in an accident. I went there at around 10 am, and remained at Banur till 2.30 pm. I received a text message of my sample been collected for Rapid Antigen test, since it was in English, I could not understand it and I avoided it, but then again at 3.10 pm, I received another message stating that my report is ‘Negative’ and this was in Punjabi. The messages which I received had no phone numbers mentioned due to which I could not find as from where I was getting these messages from,” said Satnam Singh.

Another Janetpur (Punjab) village resident, Lakhwinder Singh, 29, also received the same message on his mobile of Rapid Antigen Test sample collected of him at 12.04 pm, and later at 3.09 pm, he learnt that he has also had tested Negative.

Lakhwinder, who is a farmer, said that he was working in the fields when the messages came on his phone on November 21.

“I don’t know how this has happened. I have not gone to any hospital or health centre, but my sample is collected and I even test  ‘Negative’. I was though shocked to see it, but I did not bother much about it,” he said.

Similar messages were received by Jaswinder Singh, 43, of Kalo Majra as his sample was also claimed to have been collected to at the Kalo Majra Health Centre, and the test reports turned out to be ‘Negative’.

Meanwhile, when contacted, Dr Gurmehar Singh, Medical Officer of Health Centre of village Kalo Majra, said, “There is nothing like this being done at the Health Centre. The person who comes here at our hospital gets tested. There is nothing like this in my knowledge.”

When Dr Vikas Goyal, Senior Medical Officer of Kalo Majra, Community Health Centre, was asked about the alleged fake tests done through the Health Centre, he said, “It cannot happen, but still I will get it checked at the Health Centre, if such things has been done”.

Punjab’s Nodal Officer for Covid-19, Dr Rajesh Bhaskar said, “There is no possibility of such a thing happening. There could be a possibility, though that the person who got tested might have given some other persons phone number. We are, meanwhile, also discouraging Rapid Antigen testing and we are not even issuing the health centres Antigen testing kits. Still, if such thing is happening at any of the Covid-19 testing centre, we will get it checked and take strict action.”

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