Two suspects held over fake Covid certificates

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Two suspects held over fake Covid certificates
Two suspects held over fake Covid certificates

Africa-PressUganda. Two men have been arrested as police investigate a racket behind the issuance of fake coronavirus test certificates for passengers flying out of the country.

The suspects are detained at Kampala Central Police Station on offences of forgery and uttering false documents.

The key suspect was a former laboratory attendant in the Ministry of Health while the second is a courier.

Both the suspects work at a facility in Kawempe Division, Kampala.

Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said the key suspect has admitted to forging the certificates and working with others to enter them in the Ministry of Health system.

“He has given us a list with details of 12 travellers, who he claims benefitted from the crime. We are investigating to establish how they do it so that we can apprehend others,” Assistant Superintendent of Police Owoyesigyire said yesterday.

Forgery of Covid-19 test certificates for travellers had caused diplomatic issues between Uganda and countries in Middle East after hundreds of travellers from here with certificates showing that they were tested and found negative for coronavirus turned to be positive after they were retested.

This prompted President Museveni to issue radical changes for testing of coronavirus at Entebbe airport.

Mr Owoyesigyire said they were able to detect the crime after the key suspect took a swab from a traveller at Bugolobi Flats in Kampala City and later gave him a negative certificate from Maia Medical, but when the victim reached Entebbe airport, he discovered an error in his name.

“The victim went to Maia Medical to correct the error. The medical centre found out that the certificate was fake. They reported to police and tracking down of the suspects started,” he said.

The suspect has been charging between Shs150,000 and Shs300,000 per client for the test.

The police lured the suspect to issue another certificate, which he did, and sent a courier to deliver it.

The courier was arrested and led them to the prime suspect.

The country director of Maia Medical, Mr Paul Okello, said they have been receiving several cases where travellers, who are in the Ministry of Health database system as tested and found negative and just need correction of names, but when they check their database, they don’t trace their details.

“The Ministry of Health has been putting us to task to explain yet it wasn’t a problem from our side,” Mr Okello said.

He said several other certified testing laboratories have received similar complaints.

All certified testing laboratories share their test results to the Ministry of Health electronic system and the travellers pick them at the airport.

Police suspect that the suspects connive with others to enter the names of unsuspecting clients’ list at the Ministry of Health.

Mr Owoyesigyire said a search has been carried out at the prime suspect’s home where certificates with Ministry of Health logos were recovered.

Police investigations are ongoing to establish the other members of the racket.

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