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Lang’ata Hospital Laboratories Shut Over Fake COVID-19 Tests

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UPDATE, Tuesday July 9: 5.56pm: A Director of Lang’ata Hospital, Dr. Ashoke Singh Matharu, was charged with stocking unvalidated and expired laboratory reagents. The director was arraigned alongside three other hospital officials: Muffadal Ammar HassamJee (operations manager) and Herbert Cheruiyot Charles (lab technician) and Beatrice Awino (lab technician).

They were also accused of using unvalidated laboratory reagents contrary to stipulated health directives. The four suspects pleaded not guilty: Director Ashoke and Muffadal Ammar were released on a cash bail of Ksh. 100,000 shillings each.

The other two were released on Ksh. 50,000 cash bail each. The suspects will appear in court on August 5 for another mention

Lang’ata Hospital in Nairobi on Thursday July 9 had its laboratory closed indefinitely for carrying out fake Covid-19 tests.

The facility was raided on Wednesday July 8 by officials from the Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technology Board following allegations that they were carrying out fake Covid-19 tests.

The hospital is on the spot for allegedly colluding with some staff at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) to charge and conduct unauthorised Covid-19 tests, despite lacking the capacity to do so.

Reports by Nairobi News indicated that the hospital has been charging patients Ksh 5,500 for the tests then ferrying them in an ambulance to Kemri for the actual tests, while misleading the public that it has the capacity to conduct the tests.

Patrick Kisabei, CEO of the laboratory technicianss board, said they are trying to establish if there was any memorandum of understanding of any public institution that has the capacity to test Covid-19.

“The reason why we have decided to close this institution is that they are lying to the public that they are doing the Covid-19 tests while they are not,” he said.

During the raid, the team also found out that the hospital was stocking and using expired reagents for tests.

They also found government labelled test kits which are not for sale at the facility despite it being a privately owned and run.

The director of the hospital, the chief operations officer, laboratory manager and the lab technologists were all arrested and spent the night in police cells as investigations commenced.

Last month, Health CAS Rashid Aman warned the public that counterfeit Covid-19 testing kits have penetrated the market and advised Kenyans to only use the real-time PCR tests approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In March, a doctor was arrested alongside his employee for advertising fake Covid-19 test kits.

The hospital was selling Coronavirus testing kits amounting to Sh3,000.

Dr Pravan Pancholi, the proprietor of Avane Clinic in Nairobi, and his co-accused Ndinda Kaleve were later charged in a Nairobi court with making a false advert claiming to sell coronavirus test kits.

The suspects were arrested in a raid by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council at Yaya Centre, Nairobi.

The dermatology and medical spa had issued a flyer claiming to offer Covid-19 tests just days after Kenya confirmed its first case of the virus.

Later, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council suspended Dr Pancholi over the advert.

The clinic’s license was also withdrawn for six months, according to KMPDC chairperson Eva Njenga.

“Dr. Pancholi is hereby admonished for allowing his institution to publish a deceitful, erroneous and misleading advertisement,” Dr Njenga said.

The duos arrest came after Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe issued a stern warning against business people profiteering off the pandemic.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had also warned that anyone found taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis would be dealt with by the authorities.


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