Merkel crisis: German media accuse Covid test centres of misreporting figures

Germany: Expert on reports of 'fraud' at COVID-19 test centres

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Private coronavirus testing centres across Germany have been accused of billing the government for more covid tests than are taking place. The scandal emerged as reporters from German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and broadcaster ARD said private test centres were grossly inflating the number of tests being registered compared with the number of actual visitors, throwing Germany’s true covid figures into chaos. The tests are free to the public but the government pays private test centres an astonishing 18 euros (£15.47) per test. The scandal is yet another to engulf outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel as Germany fails to keep control of covid chaos in Germany.

Speaking to DW News, reporter Joe Dullroy said the private test centres were “popping up all over the place” following the German government’s decision to allow private contractors to conduct tests.

He explained: “You’ll find them in converted fast food restaurants, in bars which have closed down, in vehicles.

“And even on the back of bicycles!”

The scandal has erupted following the federal government’s decision to offer private operators up to 18 euros per test, which the government argue has enabled the German government to reopen the economy. 

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But DW news explained:  “It is costing Germany a fortune.”

Mr Dullroy added: “Reporters from the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung as well as some public TV stations sat outside some of these testing centres and they counted the number of people going in.

“And they compared that with the number of tests being reported to the authorities and they found some major discrepancy.”

He added: “In one case a test centre which was visited by 70 people, the operators charged the government for over one thousand tests on that particular day, which is a huge discrepancy.”

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Mr Dullroy added: “The operator from that centre says it was all a misunderstanding that they were simply bundling together multiple tests from different locations into one.

“But the authorities say even that would not have been permitted and they have opened an investigation.”

“This is just one case, there are thousands of these testing centres and they are conducting millions of these tests every week.”

And in a stab at Chancellor Merkel, he said: “There is no single government authority which is responsible for controlling them.”

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Germany will introduce stricter controls on the administering of private coronavirus tests according to Health Minister Jens Spahn.

On Saturday he tweeted: “There will be more random checks.

“Pragmatism is necessary these days. Those who exploit that must not be allowed to get away with it.”

Germany offers its citizens at least one free coronavirus test per week, with several federal states providing one free test a day as the government foots the bill.

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