DOH, RITM issue warning against COVID-19 testing fraud

Published January 30, 2021, 3:57 PM

by Analou de Vera

Health authorities warned the public against individuals or facilities who are issuing fake COVID-19 test results. 

(UNSPLASH / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reminded the public to be vigilant and to get tested only in COVID-19 testing laboratories that were approved by the government. 

“Makakasiguro tayo na authentic at saka official yung laboratory results na makukuha natin kung tayo ay  pupunta  sa lisensyadong laboratoryo ng gobyerno [We can be assured that the laboratory results we get are authentic and official if we go to a government-licensed laboratory],” she said. 

“Pag pumunta tayo dito sa mga laboratoryo na nakita natin na wala namang license to operate, ay huwag na po kayong magpa-test dyan dahil hindi po official iyang result na iyan [If we go to  laboratories with no license to operate, the result won’t be official],” she added. 

Vergeire said that those who will be found issuing fake COVID-19 test results will face sanctions under Republic Act 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.” 

“Any person or entity committing these prohibited acts shall be penalized with a fine of not less than twenty thousand pesos but not more than fifty thousand pesos or imprisonment of not less than one  month but not more than six months, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the proper court,” the law states. 

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) also warned the public against “unscrupulous individuals” posing as its employees offering swabbing services and issuing falsified COVID-19 test results.

The fraudulent act was discovered by the RITM after it received requests for “verification of a total of 27 COVID-19 test results” from various private companies and the government’s disease reporting units. 

Of the 27 fake results, 20 were used for travel, three for hotel accommodations, and four for other purposes, the RITM said. 

“RITM reiterates that it has not authorized any other agency or third-party organizations and individuals to collect samples or arrange online appointment for PCR testing on behalf of the Institute in exchange for a fee,” it said. 

“The release of official laboratory results is likewise not subject to any form of payment. As a government institution, providing services to the public such as SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing at RITM is subsidized and reimbursed through PhilHealth and no extra charges are imposed,” it added. 

The Institute said that its test results are only released through the Surveillance and Response Unit (SRU) and Health Information Management Department (HIMD).

“The use of fake laboratory results poses a danger not only to individuals, but to their family, their workplace, and their community. When you go around without confirming your status, you are putting everyone around you at risk,” said RITM Director Celia Carlos. 

 
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