FG seals off lab issuing fake COVID-19 test results

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The federal government has sealed off a laboratory found to be carrying out fake coronavirus tests.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), announced the closure of the laboratory, at the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

In a two-part report, it has been exposed how travellers paid government officials to obtain fake coronavirus test certificates with positive diagnosis.

Citing the reports, Chikwe said the authorities had swung into action and found one of the places where travellers get fake results without having their samples tested for the virus.

“Last week, with the FCT administration supporting us, we sealed one of those centres here in Abuja. This centre has been collecting funds from citizens and issuing fake results,” he said.

“In these labs and centres, samples are collected from people and there is no evidence that a test is done. Results are provided. People go around with those results and continue with their travels.

“However, we really appeal to all Nigerians; it takes two to tango. We have published on our website all the authorised private labs where travel-related testing can be done.

“There are 33 of them; all of them on our website. If you choose to go to any other centre outside of these, you are part of the problem. So, citizens have to take some responsibilities themselves in not patronising these other centres.”

The NCDC DG also said the federal government plans to deploy a platform where all tests can be verified to confirm the authenticity of coronavirus test certificates.

“From our end, we are at the final stage of deploying a platform through which every private lab in the country will be reporting their results, and every single result out of Nigeria will be verified by any airline, any embassy or any foreign country,” he said.

Persons leaving and entering Nigeria are mandated to undergo tests to show they are not carriers of the virus before embarking on their journey.

But investigations by TheCable had revealed how fake results were being issued to travellers in Abuja and Lagos, after paying bribe to government and airport officials.

The investigation generated widespread calls from Nigerians, who took to social media to demand concrete steps from the government to address the scam.

The federal ministry of health set up a panel to probe the issue, while 54gene, a laboratory whose result template was being copied by the fraudsters, denied having a hand in the illegality, and also set up a validation portal for results from its laboratory.

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