A 57-year-old bank manager who was given a false swab test report that declared him negative for Covid-19 died at a government hospital on Thursday after testing positive for the viral disease.
Kolkata Police have arrested three persons on a complaint lodged by the victim’s wife. The police are investigating whether the racketeers had duped anyone else with false reports.
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“The swab test report had a handwritten Specimen Referral Form ID with only nine digits. In original reports it is typed and has 13 digits. It was a fake report,” said a senior doctor of MR Bangur Hospital in Kolkata, the largest state-run Covid-designated hospital in the city, requesting anonymity.
Police said that Bimal Sinha was suffering from fever and cough and cold. A family doctor referred him to a man who runs a pathological lab that could collect his samples from home because he was too weak to go out.
“When Sinha’s family contacted the laboratory, the owner sent one youth to collect his swab sample. on July 25. A day later, the family was told over phone that Sinha has tested negative. When the family demanded a formal test report, the youth’s brother sent them a report with hand written SRF ID and a WhatsApp message declaring him Covid-negative,” said a senior officer at Netaji Nagar police station, requesting anonymity.
The man was rushed to a nursing home when his condition deteriorated. Later he was referred to MR Bangur Hospital, where doctors detected the discrepancies in the test report.
“The hospital doctors told us that the report was fake. The youth took Rs 2,000 to collect the sample. My father succumbed on July 30 after testing positive in the government hospital. We lost valuable time in treatment. Had we known in the initial stage that he was positive, we could have rushed him to the hospital for treatment,” said Harsh Sinha, the victim’s son.
The three men who were arrested were traced from the mobile phone number on which they had sent the WhatsApp message.
Indrajit Sikdar, 26, and Biswajit Sikdar, 23m were arrested from south Kolkata. They are brothers and were attached with two separate state-run hospitals as contractual technicians. A third person Anit Paira, who runs a private laboratory, was also arrested.
“The youths told the family that they were attached with a well-known laboratory where swab samples were tested. Preliminary investigation, however, revealed that the duo was not attached with the laboratory and no such tests were carried out in the laboratory. The duo had produced a fake report with the laboratory’s name,” said an officer.