November 23: The government has sought clarifications from labs of four hospitals in Kathmandu on suspicion of certifying false PCR reports.
A meeting of the Incident Command System (ICS) of health ministry on Sunday decided to seek clarifications from Star Hospital, Central Diagnostic Laboratory, Surya Health Care Hospital and HAMS regarding this issue. The four hospitals have been given 24 hours to furnish their clarification.
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation had written letters to the health ministry and the Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC) to investigate the matter as Nepali nationals undergoing tests at those hospitals tested positive for coronavirus in foreign countries soon after leaving the country. In most of the cases, the hospitals had certified their report as negative for coronavirus.
Many passengers who left the country through various airlines with the certificates provided by private hospitals’ labs were found infected during tests conducted at airports of foreign countries.
The first of such incident was reported on October 3 when six Nepali nationals travelled to Hong Kong through a regular flight of Nepal Airlines tested positive for the disease despite getting clearance from the private hospitals. Hong Kong allows entry of people having negative report of less than 72 hours. But the six passengers tested positive and the Civil Aviation Department of Hong Kong subsequently banned Nepal Airlines Corporation for two weeks.
Suspecting that the private labs of Nepal had provided the passengers with fake certificates, the tourism ministry had written a letter to the health ministry to investigate the matter on November 13.
The labs are supposed to store the samples of blood for one month in case the report comes negative while they have to store the samples for three months if the result is positive. However, the labs were found not to have maintained the records.
Spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population Dr Jageshwar Gautam informed that the four hospitals were asked to submit clarifications because they did not preserve the samples.
The Emergency Health and Disaster Management Centre has formed a three-member probe committee headed by Dr Mukunda Sharma of the National Public Health Lab, Teku to investigate into the matter.