Updated: February 19, 2021 2:39:02 pm
TWO DAYS after The Indian Express reported on more than 1,400 Covid test entries with sets of zeroes in place of mobile numbers and no clear address in four Primary Health Centres and two hospitals of Bhagalpur, the district administration has decided to deduct a month’s payment from the honorarium for data entry operators at these facilities.
Bhagalpur Civil Surgeon Vijay Kumar Singh told The Indian Express that more irregularities have come to light in an inquiry, including the use of one phone number for 700 entries at the PHC in Bihpur.
The Indian Express report was part of an ongoing investigation that has found several gaps in Covid testing data compiled by Primary Health Centres and other facilities in at least four districts of Bihar, including contact details essential for tracing the entries, in a scramble to meet targets.
In an order issued on February 17, Civil Surgeon Singh said the decision will cover data entry operators at facilities listed in The Indian Express report: PHCs at Narayanpur, Bihpur, Kahalgaon and Jagdishpur, and the referral hospital at Pirpaiti.
The Civil Surgeon also asked medical officers in charge of these PHCs and hospitals to identify those responsible for entering zeroes in place of mobile numbers and take further action. Typically, a PHC in Bihar has about 3-5 data entry operators with each getting an honorarium of about Rs 10,500 every month.
Singh told The Indian Express: “We have decided to deduct one month honorarium of data entry operators, who are primarily responsible for entering Covid testing data.. We have asked the in-charges of three sub-divisions to probe the involvement of other officials. In Bihpur, we have found one phone number for over 700 entries. We will get a report in one week and take action accordingly.”
Officials in the district have been conducting physical verification of test entries on a random basis at PHCs and hospitals.
Last week, Bihar’s Health department suspended nine personnel from Jamui, including the Civil Surgeon and district programme officer, after the findings of The Indian Express was raised in the Rajya Sabha by the RJD, prompting the Centre to seek a detailed report from the state.
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