Valenzuela City clinic accused of conducting fake COVID-19 swab tests

Image for illustrative purposes only. Photo: Mufid Majnun/Unsplash
Image for illustrative purposes only. Photo: Mufid Majnun/Unsplash

A Valenzuela City-based business called Best Care Medical Clinic and Diagnostic Center is being accused of conducting fake COVID-19 swab tests, a local news program reported yesterday.

Dr. Alma Radovan-Onia, the medical director of Joni Villanueva Molecular and Diagnostic Laboratory (JVMDL) in Bulacan, said that  Best Care uses her lab’s name in swab test results without her approval. JVMDL and Best Care used to have an agreement where the Valenzuela City clinic was supposed to send COVID-19 test samples to the former.

However, Best Care ceased sending samples to JVDML sometime in October 2020, the news program 24 Oras reported. In addition, Best Care allegedly made it appear that its COVID-19 tests were reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, even if they were not.

Read: Woman gives birth while waiting for COVID-19 swab test in Pasay City mall

JVMDL apparently learned about the alleged forgery from one of Best Care’s employees.

The Department of Health reportedly does not authorize Best Care to conduct RT-PCR tests, considered the “gold standard” in detecting COVID-19.

Dr. Jovith Royales, the manager and chief executive officer of Best Care, has yet to speak about the allegations.

Meanwhile, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian threatened to cancel Best Care’s license to operate if found guilty of the allegations.

“[When] you were promised one thing, [and] you paid for something else, [that’s a violation]. That’s clear. That’s grounds for suspension or revocation of business permit,” the mayor said in English and Filipino.

Read: Here’s where you can get a COVID-19 swab test for PHP391

RT-PCR tests have become a necessity in the Philippines. Many companies require employees to take them before reporting for work. In addition, places like Boracay and Baguio City have made negative RT-PCR test results one of the requirements for all incoming travelers.

It was just in November when the Health Department decided to set a price range for RT-PCR tests after a few private hospitals had charged as much as PHP8,000 (US$166.50) for each. Now, private hospitals and labs can only charge PHP4,500 (US$94) to PHP5,000 (US$104) for each RT-PCR while government institutions can charge up to PHP3,800 (US$79).

The RT-PCR is considered by many health experts as the most accurate, although the Philippine Red Cross has started using a saliva-based test, which is said to be cheaper and less intrusive.

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