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Germany gets tough on Covid test centres after media expose fraud

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Health ministers in Germany have pledged to clamp down on fraud in coronavirus test centres across the country, after evidence that some have been claiming for more tests than they have carried out.

At an emergency meeting on Monday after German media exposed the anomalies, Jens Spahn, the federal health minister, and representatives from the 16 states agreed to introduce reforms at the 15,000 test centres.

Since March, Germans have been able to have at least one free coronavirus test a week, with some states providing one test a day. The national daily test capacity is about 360,000 a day.
Test centres receive €18 (£15) for each test carried out.

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However, as increasing numbers of test centres sprang up around the country, no system was in place to track the number of tests actually done, compared with the numbers submitted by the centres to the government, for which they are quickly reimbursed.

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A spokesperson for the health ministry said that in future the number of tests a centre claims to have carried out will be checked against the number of test kits it has been provided with and invoiced for, to reduce what he referred to as “criminal scheming”.

In addition to random checks by health authority staff, the tax office might also be asked to check a test centre’s accounts, the participants agreed, with records expected to be kept until 2024. Continue reading…

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