Two Bengaluru health staff caught on camera faking swab collection dismissed

A case against the staff has also been filed in the Kodigehalli police station.
Screenshot from the video where Nagaraj and Hemanth are seen putting new swabs into the vials
Screenshot from the video where Nagaraj and Hemanth are seen putting new swabs into the vials
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The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Monday reportedly dismissed Kodigehalli Primary Health Center (PHC)’s two health staff -- Hemanth and Nagaraj-- who were caught on camera faking a swab collection. The Chief Health Officer has been suspended pending a probe. A case was already registered against the duo at the Kodigehalli police station based on the complaint of the Medical Officer Dr Premanand BR from Kodigehalli PHC.

The matter came to light on Sunday after a viral video showed Hemanth and Nagaraj opening new swabs and just putting them into vials without taking a sample. Some women, not seen in the frame, are heard talking to them and joking about the sample collection. A woman, not seen in the frame, is also heard talking to the two men, telling them that they will be in trouble if this video goes viral. However, one of the men replies saying that he is not afraid, and will continue.

Hemanth and Nagaraj, were hired by the BBMP 10 months ago to collect swabs for COVID-19 testing. The three female voices heard in the video have been identified by the police as Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers Kusuma, Prema and Padma, who work in the PHC. Another personnel, Ashok from the PHC, was also seen in the video, according to the FIR.

The incident also points to the frustration that these contract workers face in the form of erratic salary payments and the heavy workload imposed on them. The workers have been facing trouble at work since September due to salary payment delays, shortage of workers and increased workload, reported Deccan Herald.

The report quoted a swab collector as saying, “Our salary is Rs 18,000 per month, including Rs 5,000 in incentives. However, we have not been paid our salary for two months. Worse, we are now hearing that the government will no longer pay incentives.”

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