KALIBO, Aklan–Three out of six tourists arrested for presenting fake COVID-19 test results tested turned out positive for the coronavirus.
The new cases include two women and a male tourist who have since been kept in isolation in a facility and a private hotel in Kalibo, Aklan, as part of the mandatory quarantine protocols.
Of the six, five arrived together: a TV show dancer, two make-up artists, an assistant, and an entertainment manager. All three COVID-positives were from this group.
The sixth, a woman, arrived independently and was apprehended on January 21.
The quintet was allowed entry into the island resort based solely on the health papers they presented; they did not have a confirmed booking with an accredited hotel establishment.
It wasn’t clear how they were given permission to stay when they did not have all the requirements to show upon arrival.
When later the Aklan provincial validating team discovered their medical papers were fraudulent, they were arrested as they were trying to check in as walk-in guests in a hotel in Barangay Manocmanoc.
“Although their certificates had the name of an accredited molecular laboratory in Quezon City, the lab denied issuing COVID test certificates to the said individuals,” said Provincial Health Officer I Dr. Cornelio Cuachon, Jr., who added, “We might be dealing with a criminal syndicate producing negative test results.”
The tourists alleged they were swabbed at home as part of a home service package.
Earlier, on January 18, police also extracted a male tourist from the island after the Department of Health in Western Visayas informed the Provincial Health Office in Aklan that the tourist had tested positive for the coronavirus.
When investigated, the man confessed to having received a positive test result while in Manila on January 13. However, two days later he decided to get a second RT-PCR test from a different laboratory, results of which showed him negative for the virus.
This second certificate was the one he presented to secure a QR code and gain admission to Boracay.
However, a third test conducted after his arrest and processed this time by the Aklan provincial hospital molecular laboratory showed him and his girlfriend negative for COVID-19.
Authorities are still trying to determine the cause of the mix-up.
Meanwhile, the couple is still in quarantine in Kalibo, Aklan.
As these developed, the provincial government of Aklan decided it will no longer issue probationary quick response (QR) codes to incoming tourists. They will be issued only when all documents, particularly the test result certificates, have been validated.
The presentation of forged medical certificates has become increasingly frequent since Boracay reopened its doors to domestic tourists in October 2020 with almost weekly arrests being reported./(Boy Ryan Zabal/INews-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)
Photo by: Caticlan PNP