Covid-19: Alert regarding delivery of false negative tests
Improvised laboratories were installed on the outskirts of the Guayaquil prison. Photo: Archivo / EL COMERCIO.
Fernando Medina, Editor
January 2, 2021 00:00
The entire operation was carried out through Instagram and WhatsApp. The messages were short. “Do you have covid-19 and want to travel? We help you with the negative test,” they said. If the interested parties answered immediately they gave them information, otherwise the text would be deleted in seconds.
The sender called himself Carlos and asked for up to USD 100 to deliver a false certificate that indicated that the person did not have coronavirus. The document included the signature of a supposed doctor and the stamp of a clinical laboratory.
With that certificate, he guaranteed trips to Peru, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala or Spain.
In those nations, travelers must arrive with negative tests. A similar requirement is required to enter the Galapagos. For this reason, they also offered certificates for tourists who wanted to reach the islands.
The first alerts were known precisely by the archipelago authorities.
Last October, health personnel began to check the certificates of the tourists and discovered that at least 17 entered with false tests.
Today, the ECU 911 has a record of 190 certificates with alleged irregularities on a national scale. The director of the entity, Juan Zapata, maintains that the increase in these irregular processes led him to alert the interior of the National Emergency Operations Committee (COE).
That body asked the Prosecutor’s Office and the Police to investigate those responsible. The two institutions say they have tracked down the suspects and that they have discovered that behind these types of forgeries are criminal groups, which even operate in a similar way as in Spain.
Information from that nation indicates that the networks offer the certificates through encrypted web pages. That is, sites that are managed by ‘hackers’ and that can only enter through codes.
Therefore, those who now arrive from Europe to Quito or Guayaquil must leave the PCR test, to investigate the origin.
In Ecuador, the investigations determined that unknown persons spread throughout the country, but mainly in Quito and Guayaquil, chains of messages offering clandestine ‘services’.
Now the servers that were used are tracked. After collecting testimonies, it was also known that people in white coats roamed the neighborhoods, identified themselves as legally authorized laboratory workers and offered the tests.
In Guayaquil, for example, the false doctors said they were on a campaign. If the result was positive, they were given the option of paying to deliver the document, but with negative results.
In the police offices there are testimonies that show how the suspects forged seals, logos and laboratory signatures. One of these centers is investigated, since the number of tests carried out does not coincide with those reported to the Ministry of Health. The Penal Code (art. 328) punishes with imprisonment from five to seven years those who adulterate and use false documents.
After the investigations, it is known that the relatives of the prisoners also paid to obtain negative results. That is a requirement to enter intimate visits Currently, the Prosecutor’s Office has two legal proceedings against two alleged doctors who performed tests outside the prisons of Guayaquil. The suspects were arrested in late October.
The relatives themselves said that in front of the prison they are charged USD 17 and they give them the document, but that they gave us tests.
Improvised laboratories were installed on the outskirts of the Penitentiary to serve users. These sites were intervened by personnel from the Health Surveillance Agency (Arcsa) and the Police Department.
The alerts were also presented on labor issues. Owners of two businesses in Quito reported to the Prosecutor’s Office that job seekers even arrived with negative covid tests, but that when they were analyzed they were false. One of them acknowledged having obtained the document through the Internet.
This content has been originally published by Diario EL COMERCIO at the following address: https: //www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/alerta-pruebas-negativas-falsas-covid19.html
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