Covid-testing gaps in Bihar: Bhagalpur to deduct month’s salary of data entry operators

Glaring gaps in Covid testing in 4 Bihar districts reported.

The district administration of Bhagalpur has decided to deduct a month’s payment of employees at four Primary health Centres and two hospitals at the district for involvement in fudging 1400 Covid test entries.

The Indian Express earlier reported on how Covid testing data was allegedly fudged and inflated at least four Bihar districts to meet targets, following which the state government set up teams to conduct a probe.

More irregularities apart from the ones highlighted by IE’s investigations have come to light, including using the same phone number for multiple entries, said Bhagalpur Civil Surgeon Vijay Kumar Singh.

The order said that the decision to deduct pay holds for entry operators at facilities listed by IE report: PHC at Bihpur, Narayanpur, Jagadishpur, Kahalgaon and other referral hospitals in Pirpaiti. The Civil Surgeon ordered medical officers to recognise employees responsible for such fudged entry as entering zeroes in place of the phone number. Each data entry operator at the PHCs in Bihar get an honorarium of about Rs 10,500 per month.

The Civil Surgeon has further asked the in-charge of every PHC involved to probe the involvement of other officials in the fudging of the data. The report will be prepared in a week’s time after which further action will be taken. In Bihpur, one phone number was used in 700 entries.

Officials in the probe team are randomly conducting physical verification of test entries at PHCs and hospitals that conducted Covid testing.

Last week, district programme officer, Civil Surgeon and seven other personnel were suspended from Jamui on account of mishandling data. After the issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha by the RJD, the Centre sought a detailed report from the state.

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