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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Bihar’s Covid data fudge: Set up high-level inquiry, RJD’s Manoj Jha tells govt

Referring to The Indian Express reports, Jha pointed out that testing figures in the state increased at an unrealistic pace as per the state records.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: February 12, 2021 2:50:41 pm
In Parliament: 5 QuestionsRJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar Jha (File photo)

RJD MP Manoj Jha on Friday urged the government to set up a high-level inquiry into the fudging of COVID-19 testing data in Bihar, revealed this week through an investigation by The Indian Express.

Referring to The Indian Express reports, Jha, a leader of the Opposition in Bihar, pointed out that testing figures in the state increased at an unrealistic pace as per the state records.

“Over the past two days a leading national daily has been carrying stories on manipulation and fudging of Covid testing data in Bihar. Astonishingly, testing figures crossed one lakh in seven days, and then it crossed 2 lakh in another 14 days. It has been found that many columns in testing data have been left blank. Contract tracing is difficult since mobile numbers with ten zeroes have been entered against names, and in many cases, the names and mobile numbers of people are not matching. I want to demand, through you Sir, a high-level inquiry into this,” Jha said suring the Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha on Friday.

The RJD MP also suggested that government agencies use the Aadhaar card, pan card and other valid documents for maintaining data in the future to ensure no one can make a mockery of the health system this way.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said that the matter raised by Jha is important and asked Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to inquire into the gaps highlighted by the investigation.

Over the last two days an investigation by The Indian Express, which tracked 885 entries in Covid testing records from three districts in Bihar, found several cases of fudged mobile numbers, fake names and dodgy details.

The Indian Express visited six PHCs in Jamui, Sheikhpura and Patna, and accessed their testing records for January 16, 18 and 25. In Jamui, it tracked down each of the 588 entries at three PHCs for those days, and spoke to several staffers to find that basic data protocol was bypassed in a scramble to meet the daily target. The investigation also unearthed attempts to siphon off profits from unused testing kits.

Bihar was among the states hardest-hit by the pandemic with the return of over 20 lakh migrant workers as infections peaked in the middle of last year. The state has so far recorded 2,61,447 positive cases with 754 currently active, and 1,518 deaths linked to Covid.

While Patna tops the state’s Covid chart with over 52,000 cases so far, records from Jamui and Sheikhpura show how in several cases, the mobile numbers provided for those tested were owned by unrelated people from other districts or states. In some cases, multiple unrelated persons were listed under one number. In a few cases, numbers used were those of the PHC staffers themselves.

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