DOH-RITM warns public against fake COVID-19 tests
A man undergoes swab method for the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, testing to detect the 2019 coronavirus at a mass testing event in Manila on Oct. 6, 2020.
The STAR/Edd Gumban

DOH-RITM warns public against fake COVID-19 tests

(Philstar.com) - January 27, 2021 - 5:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine has warned the public against individuals posing as their staff offering free swabbing services and issuing falsified COVID-19 confirmatory test results.

In a statement on Wednesday, the RITM said they received requests for verification of 27 test results from different private companies and some Diseases Reporting Units. Twenty of these were allegedly used for travel, three for hotel accommodations and four for other purposes.

The RITM said that initial investigation showed that the test results submitted to them for verification were not found in its COVID-19 Laboratory Information System and the signatories were not affiliated with them. Several medical certifications bearing the RITM logo and signatories submitted were also confirmed fake.

The institute reiterated 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 added that payment is not needed for the release of official laboratory results as COVID-19 PCR testing at the RITM is subsidized through the Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) Corp.

The RITM also said only results released by its Surveillance and Response Unit (SRU) and Health Information Management Department are legitimate.

RITM Director Celia Carlos warned: “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.”

Carlos added they are coordinating with authorities to put a stop to these activities. “Additional security features have also been implemented to prevent misuse of our Institute’s good name for personal profit and exploitation of public trust,” she also said.

The RITM urged those who wish to verify results to contact RITM-SRU through 0919-9279185 and through ritmsurveillance@gmail.com.

They also called on the public to report to the Department of Health and authorities suspected fraudulent COVID-19 testing and releasing of results.

Health authorities on Wednesday recorded 2,245 new COVID-19 infections, pushing national caseload to 518,407. — Kristine Joy Patag

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