Duped by fake negative Covid-19 report, Kolkata man tests positive, dies days later

A bank manager (57) was duped with a fake report that showed him coronavirus disease (Covid-19) negative, when he had contracted SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease, and died of it in a government-run hospital in Kolkata on Thursday.

Kolkata Police has arrested three persons on the basis of a complaint lodged by the deceased’s wife.

Further investigation is on to ascertain how rampant was the racket.

“The test report was fake, as it had a handwritten specimen referral form (SRF) ID that had only nine digits. While an original report comes printed and consists of 13 digits,” said a doctor of MR Bangur Hospital in Kolkata, the largest state-run Covid-19 designated hospital in the city.

Police said the bank manager was suffering from a fever, cough and common cold. His family doctor referred him to a man, who runs a pathological laboratory, as he was too weak to visit a testing centre.

“The owner of the laboratory sent a youth to collect his swab sample on July 25. A day later, his family members were told over the phone that he had tested Covid-19 negative. They were given a report, where the SRF ID was written in longhand and a WhatsApp message was also sent that declared the patient as Covid-19 negative,” said an official of Netaji Nagar police station in south Kolkata.

However, he was rushed to a private nursing home, when his condition worsened.

Later, the nursing home authorities referred him to MR Bangur Hospital, where the doctors detected the discrepancies in the test report.

“The doctors told us that the report was fake. The youth took Rs 2,000 to collect the sample. My father died on July 30 (Thursday) after he had tested Covid-19 positive in the hospital. We lost valuable time for his treatment,” said the deceased’s son.

Subhash Adhikary, the officer-in-charge of Netaji Nagar police station, traced the culprits on the basis of the WhatsApp number that was used to send the message to the deceased’s family members.

Brothers Indrajit Sikdar (26) and Biswajit Sikdar (23) were arrested from south Kolkata. The duo was attached to two separate state-run hospitals as contractual technicians.

Another person, Anit Paira, who runs a private laboratory, was also arrested.

“The Sikdars told the deceased family members that they were attached to a well-known laboratory, where swab samples are tested. Preliminary investigation, however, revealed that the duo was not attached to the laboratory and no such tests were carried out in the laboratory. They made up the fake report and used the laboratory’s name to lend credibility,” said a Kolkata Police official.

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