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pakistan
Monday Sep 21 2020
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Punjab health officials detect fake COVID-19 data entries, launch probe

The country sees relaxation in coronavirus restrictions after the steady decline in coronavirus reported cases. Photo: AFP/File

The Punjab primary and secondary healthcare department has suspended eight health officers in Lahore after it found “fake and fictitious entries” of coronavirus data during the month of August.

A notification, seen by Geo.tv, issued by the department, reveals that the city’s COVID-19 data, spanning from August 23 to August 31, was comprehensively analysed and fake entries were found during that period.

The document lists down nine areas in Lahore where smart sampling of the virus was conducted during the eight days. “It is proved that the deputy district health officers of Ravi, Cantt, Allama Iqbal, Gulberg, Aziz Bhatti, Nishter, Shalimar and Wagha towns were involved in making fake, forged and irreverent data in the dashboard,” the official notification reads.

Read more: Is Punjab’s official data missing deaths from COVID-19?

It further adds that the district health officer DHA “has shown lethargic and careless attitude towards his official assignment and it seems that he has been involved in intentional omission and commission of data.”

The carelessness of the officials was tantamount to misconduct and inefficiency, it explains.

For now, an inquiry has been launched into 1,883 suspicious entries, of which 626 entries were found with invalid contact details, 159 entries were those where samples were not taken by teams and 1,098 had wrong numbers or addresses of the patient, according to the primary and secondary healthcare department.

“Fake entries were made to avoid fieldwork and to give the impression of less cases, which is misleading,” Hafiz Qasier Abbas, the spokesperson of the department, said in a statement. “These entries were detected by the system itself which makes the system foolproof.”

The misleading data was removed in time, added the spokesperson, and was not added to the overall tally of infections in the province.

“Any fake entry or fudged data can cause an illusion during decision making, which can have serious consequences,” Abbas said.

The deputy district health officers of the named areas have been placed under suspension while a full inquiry is ongoing.