New Delhi, June 17 (EFE).- The government of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand on Thursday ordered an investigation against a number of private healthcare providers over allegations that they submitted thousands of fake Covid-19 test reports during the massive Hindu religious gathering Kumbh Mela, which was held in the middle of the pandemic’s second wave in the country.
“We have registered a first information report against the Max Corporate company over suspicion of (fake Covid testing),” SK Jha, the chief medical officer of the Haridwar district, told EFE.
Although Jha refused to divulge further details pending investigation, local news outlets have claimed that over 100,000 fake test reports may have been provided during the event in Haridwar – situated on the banks of the holy Ganges river – where millions of Hindu pilgrims gathered for the festival over many weeks.
This year’s Kumbh festival took place between March and April, when authorities decided to go ahead with the event even though the country had begun to detect a rapid surge in coronavirus cases.
In order to prevent the virus from spreading, the Uttarakhand government had hired a number of private hospitals and labs, most of them from Delhi and its neighboring state of Haryana, to carry out mass Covid testing during the festival.
Reports have alleged that some of the test results could have been faked using identities and phone numbers of people who never attended the event, in order to meet the target of 50,000 daily tests set by the Uttarakhand High Court.
Kumbh has been widely criticized for contributing to the rapid Covid surge in India during April and May, as the country witnessed record daily caseloads of over 400,000 and around 4,500 daily deaths during the peak of the second wave .
The infection rate has dropped in recent weeks and on Thursday India reported 67,208 new coronavirus cases and 2,330 deaths. EFE