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Crackdown vs fake COVID-19 tests, vaccine certificates sought
In a study published by the Oxford University Press Public Health Emergency Collection, Cebu-based researchers Melona Deguma and Jabin Deguma cited how the manufacturing of fake tests exists in countries like the Philippines.
The STAR/Walter Bollozos, file

Crackdown vs fake COVID-19 tests, vaccine certificates sought

Elijah Felice Rosales (The Philippine Star) - April 23, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Governments must curb the production of fake COVID-19 tests and vaccine certificates, which may disrupt global efforts to contain outbreaks to the detriment of public health and the economy.

In a study published by the Oxford University Press Public Health Emergency Collection, Cebu-based researchers Melona Deguma and Jabin Deguma cited how the manufacturing of fake tests exists in countries like the Philippines.

They said the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test result to enter provincial borders or resume work after undergoing a 14-day quarantine for individuals with symptoms, made it possible for travel to restart and for industries to reopen.

However, the act of falsifying health documents poses ethical and economic concerns and threatens the plan to resume business operations to full capacity, the study said.

An asymptomatic carrier, for instance, may be authorized to travel to a tourist destination using a fake result.

The researchers said the fraudulent act must be addressed the soonest by government bodies.

Failure to punish individuals who falsify their medical records may create another wave of COVID-19 infections, they said.

“If not taken seriously, falsifying documents that certify a person who has undergone COVID-19 vaccination could happen,” the Degumas’ study warned.

The study appealed for governments to enforce preventive measures that will go after the malpractice of forging health papers, particularly COVID-19 tests and vaccine certificates.

“Government authorities have a moral and legal duty to protect the general public from such an unethical and illegal act,” they added.

In the Philippines, scores of travelers were apprehended by local governments for presenting a fake test just to enter famed attractions. In March, a 24-year-old male tourist falsified his medical records to enter Coron, Palawan, and later tested positive for the virus upon returning home in Quezon City.

In February six visitors were taken into custody by the Malay local government for issuing fake travel documents to enter Boracay Island. Three of them tested positive for COVID-19.

Under Republic Act 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, the tampering of records issued by public health agencies is considered a punishable crime.

Violators may be slapped a penalty of up to P50,000 or thrown behind bars for not more than six months, or both, upon the decision of a court.

COVID-19 TESTING COVID-19 VACCINE
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