Beware of fake virus test results
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — The main COVID-19 testing laboratory in Western Visayas has warned of a possible scheme to provide fake results to employees seeking the document so they could return to work.
Dr. Stephanie Abello, chief pathologist of Western Visayas Medical Center Sub-National Laboratory (WVMC-SNL), said a school in Iloilo province sent to their laboratory a copy of a purported reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result for verification on Friday.
The negative RT-PCR test submitted to the school by one of its employees returning for work turned out to be fake, she said.
“We caution residents to be wary of those offering swab tests and results aside from the authorized hospitals and facilities, barangay, municipal and health centers or units,” Abello told the Inquirer on Monday.
She said the signatories of the fake test result were not those of the WVMC-SNL staff.
The letterhead, including the logos and format, was also different, she said. She pointed out that the fake test result had logos of WVMC and the Department of Health, while that of the WVMC-SNL only carries the WVMC logo.
Authenticity of the test result can also be verified based on the unique test result number, which provides the date and time when the specimen was received.
Abello said tests conducted by WVMC-SNL were free of charge and results were sent to the offices of local governments and not to individuals who were tested.
She said this was the first time that they received a copy of a fake RT-PCR test result, and that the laboratory had referred the matter to the WVMC management for investigation.
Unscrupulous individuals, she said, could be taking advantage of employees and other people who require a negative RT-PCR test result before being allowed to resume work.
“We strongly condemn such act and any person found to be liable for faking the WVMC-SNL RT-PCR results shall be lawfully dealt with,” WVMC management said in an advisory.
From March 24 to Oct. 19, WVMC-SNL received 114,227 specimens for processing and had released more than 110,000 test results.
WVMC-SNL was the first of 10 COVID-19 testing laboratories established in the region. Five of these laboratories are operated by the government.
In Capiz province, Roxas City Diagnostic and Laboratory Center, which is operated by the city government, will be inaugurated on Tuesday in Barangay Milibili.
In Iloilo, the subnational laboratories, aside from WVMC-SNL, include those at QualiMed Health Network-¬Iloilo and Metro Iloilo Hospital and Medical Center.
The laboratories in Negros Occidental are operating at Teresita Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City and Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, Bacolod Queen of Mercy Hospital, The Doctors’ Hospital Inc. and Philippine Red Cross-Negros Occidental Molecular Laboratory, all in Bacolod City.
In Aklan province, the COVID-19 laboratory is operating at Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital in the capital town of Kalibo.
The Iloilo provincial government and the Iloilo City government are also expected to operate separate COVID-19 laboratories within the year.
The increasing number of testing centers are expected to speed up the release of results and minimize backlogs, compared to the earlier months of the pandemic.
While RT-PCR tests conducted in government facilities are free of charge, those in private hospitals and facilities cost at least P4,500.
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