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Ten people arrested over fake coronavirus testing kits

Health & Science

Kenya Medical and Practitioners and Dentists Board Daniel Yumbya addressing the press on March 16, 2020, at Yaya Centre in Nairobi. Police raided Avane Cosmetic Dermatology Clinic which was accused of selling fake Coronavirus testing kits for Sh3,000. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Ten people were on Monday arrested in Nairobi over suspicion that a clinic, for which they worked, was selling fake coronavirus testing kits for Sh3,000.

The ten who are employees of the Avane Cosmetic Dermatology Clinic and Medical Spa in Nairobi were nabbed in a multi-agency raid after an advertisement claiming that the facility sold the said kits went viral on social media.

In the advertisement, the spa was offering old coronavirus testing kits for sh600 apiece and even provided a till number through which payment for the kits could be channelled.

“Only 400 remaining from 1,000 Unit Stock,” the advertisement read in part.

They recorded their statements at the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dental Council (KMPDC) offices as detectives tried to establish the details of the advertisement. The doctor in charge of the facility was also summoned to record a statement the KMPDC.

“They say that they are left with 400. We want to know to whom the other 600 were sold,” said Daniel Yumbwa, the KMPDC Chief Executive Officer.

When contacted by the KMPDC, in the presence of the Standard, the spa did not disown the advertisement but claimed that they were yet to order the said kits. A swoop by the multi-agency team also failed to recover any kits.

The advertisement claimed that all tests for the virus would yield results in 15 minutes and that no specialised training would be required to conduct the test. The government has already trained medical workers expected to handle coronavirus-related cases.

Furthermore, it claimed that the facility would provide medical attention for infected patients which, according to KMPDC, is a function they are not licensed to undertake.

The raid, led by the KMPDC, also incorporated officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Kenya Pharmacist and Poisons Board (KPPB) and the Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologist Board.

The arrests came a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta warned the public against spreading false news about the virus.

Yuma said that they were alarmed by the advertisement because the KPPB had not sanctioned the sale of such kits and warned the public against falling prey to similar publications.

“All tests related to the Covid-19 are conducted at the Kenya Medical Research Institute. Anyone who wants to sell the kits must seek a license from the pharmacy and poisons board. So far, no license has been issued,” he said.

Officers from the KPPB cautioned for vigilance when purchasing medical supplies, warning that unscrupulous businessmen could be out to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. They also took drug samples that are to be tested for authenticity.

“We are yet to establish whether the kits are there but no one knows how many people may have fallen prey to this case because we have not licensed anyone to test any kits,” said Joshua Plekwa, a KPPB officer.

The raid is part of a larger crackdown targeting facilities claiming to provide testing services for the global pandemic, as well as those selling unauthorised medical essentials sanctioned by the Ministry of Health.

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