RITM warns public against COVID-19 testing fraud

MUNTINLUPA CITY—The Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM) warns the public against unscrupulous individuals posing as RITM employees offering swabbing services and issuing falsified SARS-CoV-2 confirmatory test results.

The Institute was alerted of this illegal activity after receiving requests for verification of a total of 27 COVID-19 test results from various private companies and some Diseases Reporting Units (DRUs). Twenty (20) of these fake results were reportedly used for travel, three (3) for hotel accommodations, and four (4) for other purposes.

RITM reiterates that it has not authorized any other agency or third-party organizations and individuals to collect samples or arrange online appointment for PCR testing on behalf of the Institute in exchange for a fee. The release of official laboratory results is likewise not subject to any form of payment. As a government institution, providing services to the public such as SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing at RITM is subsidized and reimbursed through PhilHealth and no extra charges are imposed.

Only results released formally through the RITM Surveillance and Response Unit (SRU) and Health Information Management Department (HIMD) are legitimate.

The use of fake laboratory results poses a danger not only to individuals, but to their family, their workplace, and their community. When you go around without confirming your status, you are putting everyone around you at risk,” said RITM Director Celia Carlos, warning the public of the risks.

The initial investigation conducted confirmed that the SARS-CoV-2 test results submitted to RITM for verification were not found in its COVID-19 Laboratory Information System and the signatories were not affiliated with the Institute. Several medical certifications bearing the RITM logo and signatories were also submitted for verification and were confirmed fake. The Institute only releases certified true copy of results and does not issue any other certification.

We are coordinating with the proper authorities to ensure that these illegal activities are put to a stop. Additional security features have also been implemented to prevent misuse of our Institute’s good name for personal profit and exploitation of public trust,” affirmed Carlos.

Those who wish to verify their results may contact RITM-SRU through mobile number 09199279185 and e-mail address: ritmsurveillance@gmail.com.

Anyone suspecting of fraudulent activities concerning COVID-19 testing and releasing of results are enjoined to report immediately to the Department of Health and proper authorities.