Kerala lab manager held for issuing ‘fake’ COVID-19 certificates to travellers


PTI, Sep 29, 2020, 4:44 PM IST

Malappuram: A manager of a private lab in Valanchery in the district was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly issuing fake COVID-19 negative certificates to those travelling to various Middle East countries.

Arma lab in Valanchery, a franchise of a Kozhikode-based reputed Laboratory, allegedly collected lakhs of rupees from people for conducting the test for coronavirus, police said.

The lab in Valanchery also allegedly issued fake COVID-19 negative certificates to around 2,000 people without actually testing their samples at the Kozhikode-based laboratory, which was given license by ICMR to conduct the test for COVID-19.

As per the agreement between the labs, the Valanchery-based Arma lab has been designated as an agency to collect samples, which will be sent to the Kozhikode-based laboratory for testing.

The Kozhikode-based lab was authorised to issue COVID-19 certificates.

Police said the Arma lab authorities, who had allegedly collected 2,500 samples in the past few months, did not send all of them to the Kozhikode-based laboratory for testing.

“Instead they had sent only about 500 samples for testing and issued fake COVID-19 negative certificates in about 2000 cases. The Arma lab authorities made ‘fake’ letterheads of the Kozhikode-based laboratory and issued the COVID-19 certificates.

The Arma lab allegedly charged up to Rs 2,750 for each test and attained between Rs 40 to 45 lakhs,” police said.

Many NRIs who landed in Saudi Arabia with COVID-19 certificates provided by the Arma lab in the name of Kozhikode-based laboratory were tested positive there.

This made the Saudi Arabian authorities to ban the Kozhikode-based laboratory.

Consequently, many passengers who obtained COVID-19 negative certificates from the Kozhikode-based lab were denied travel to Saudi Arabia.

Acting on a complaint filed by a person allegedly cheated by the lab, the police launched an investigation and arrested the manager of Arma lab.

The case was registered last week and the manager of the Arma lab was arrested on Tuesday. He has been remanded to judicial custody, said Muralikrishnan, SI of police, Valanchery police station.

The owner of Arma Lab is reported to have approached the High Court for an anticipatory bail.

The lab owner is tested positive for COVID-19 and now under quarantine, police said, adding stringent action will be taken against the Valanchery-based lab for committing fraud on COVID-19 test and cheating public with lakhs of rupees.

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