The Health Ministry on Tuesday said an investigation is under way into the allegations that over a lakh fake COVID-19 tests were done in Uttarakhand during the Kumbh Mela. To a question at the Ministry press conference, Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said: “We got to know about an incident when a Punjab resident received a message that his COVID test had been conducted in Haridwar, while he was in Punjab. The information was passed onto the State government, which in a pro-active manner conducted an inquiry and about a week ago and directed senior officials in Haridwar to prepare a detailed report.’’

He said while the exact number of the alleged fake tests is not known, a detailed report is expected within a week or so. “Whatever necessary action, including for criminal offence, will be taken against those involved in recording tests without actually conducting them.’’

The Ministry said some reports had indicated that a large number of test results were issued by private labs which may have been fake. The labs reportedly did so to meet the daily quota of 50,000 tests set by the Uttarakhand High Court.

A detailed probe was ordered by the Haridwar administration after preliminary investigations revealed that many private labs roped in by the district health department had issued fake reports in the name of random people on the basis of their identity cards and phone numbers. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was alerted when the Punjab resident reported the matter to a senior officer in Uttarakhand. He alleged that his Aadhaar and mobile number had been misused.

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