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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Fake-PCR tests put a dent in COVID precautions!!

The countries continue to stride against the ongoing pandemic, by regular testing and regulating the travel industry, but there is a major hindrance in the form of fake PCR tests used by travelers.

Recent development shows that Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) has taken notice of passengers traveling to Pakistan with fake negative Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) reports. According to the authority, this is especially true for people traveling from the Gulf States, who are testing positive for COVID-19 upon arrival despite the proof of negative PCR results.

In a notification issued on May 10, the CAA said that ‘upon conducting an investigation into the issue, it has been found that passengers traveled to Pakistan using fake PCR negative test results and endangered not only passengers traveling with them, but also undermined the intense efforts being made at the national level to curb the spread of Covid-19’.

It said that the ‘onus of contributing towards this national cause does not fall on the authority alone but is a responsibility that has to be shared by all concerned stakeholders including airline operators’, adding that the people should have QR codes from approved labs to check original reports on authorized labs’ websites.

Passengers traveling to Pakistan from any country will be required to present a recent PCR report, and travel from category C countries including South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Comoros, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, Seychelles, Somalia, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela, and India.

Read More: Is COVID-19 situation worsening in Pakistan?

Not Only in Pakistan

However, the problem of fake reports is globalized, ranging from developing to developed countries. On April 23rd Canadian government banned Indians from entering Canada, as a high number of people from Pakistan’s Eastern neighbor were testing positive after carrying a negative test report, pointing towards fake reports being provided by the labs.

According to different articles in Economic Times India, Times of India, concerns have been raised regarding people faking PCR tests, and one such article says that even the rich well-off people are buying reports from fake labs.

Government in various states has been forced to close many labs selling fake reports upon demand.

Similarly, Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency a few months ago issued a warning that some criminals are selling Fake negative PCR certificates. After doing an investigation, BBC found falsified NHS certificates for sale online.

Keeping the same trend in Line, on 10th May, Saudi Arabia has also decided to implement institutional quarantine procedures for all people going to KSA, even from non-banned countries.

Similarly, in October 2020, Pakistanis traveling to UAE were found in possession of fake PCR reports.

Lastly, on 23rd April, Nepalese authorities arrested 122 passengers, mostly migrant workers heading for Gulf countries for fake PCR reports.

Read More: Famous Indian actor dies of COVID-19 after heartbreaking appeal

Thus, as the world deals with the pandemic, fake negatives are an increasing trend, curbing the lockdown policies by the government to curtail the pandemic. However, if the trend continues, the credibility of traveling would fall for the countries of origin, hampering the economy.