Zim Scientists and Business Launch Ground-breaking Tool To Eliminate COVID-19 Tests Certification Fraud

A local organisation, the International Covid-19 Travellers Compliance  Monitoring  Association  (ICTCMA), a consortium comprising of  Zimbabwean  doctors, laboratory  scientists,  travel agents, travellers and business people has developed a tool that is set to address the growing burden of fake COVID-19 test certificates amongst travellers.

By Michael Gwarisa

The new tool dubbed the International  Covid-19 Clearance  Passport is  a  multi-entry  personalized  and  securitized  booklet  that  one can  use  in up to  45  entries across the globe.

Speaking to HealthTimes, Dr Masibongesonke Muloyiswa a  founding member ICTCMA said they were using  a  ‘double-gated’  model  in  the  testing  and  certification  of international travellers that involves  certified  medical  laboratories and registered medical professionals.

We  have  also  developed  an  operating  system  for laboratories  that  generates  a  standardized  certificate,  with  a standardized  way  of reporting and a host of security features including a QR code that health officials at ports  of  entry  can  scan  using  a  simple  smart  phone  to  confirm  the  authenticity  of  the certificate.

“The  issuing  laboratory  attaches  the  certificate  onto  a  blank  page  of  the traveller’s  Covid-19 Passport  which  they  then  using  for  the  purpose  of  international travel.  Also,  the Passport  which  one  can  get  for  as  little  as  US5  has  provision  for documenting Covid-19 information in the event that one gets it in the future,” said Dr Muloyiswa.

He added that the screening process for international travellers should not be limited to sticking a nasopharyngeal swab up the nostrils but there should be at  least  temperature  check  and  typical  symptom  screen for all travellers especially considering that majority of international travellers were the major drivers of the virus especially those from high burden countries.

“There  are  case  reports  of false  negative  Covid-19  PCR  results  whereby  one  would  be  having  an  elevated temperature with some typical symptoms and such cases should be followed up closely by  medical  practitioners,  should  have  other  investigations  to  compliment  diagnosis  of Covid-19  such  CT  scan  of  the  Chest  and  have  repeat  Covid-19  tests  where  it’s necessary  to  do  so.

“One  misconception  that  is  there  in  the  current  systems  is  that  all travellers  will  test negative  for  Covid-19  pandemic,  in  as  much  as  the  majority  will  be negative,  some  will  actually  test  positive  during  the  process.  The  big  question  is  for those  who  test  positive  how  do  they  get  cleared  for  travel?”

He also said there were stipulated regulations by the WHO on the isolation duration for those who test positive, depending on whether they are symptomatic or asymptotic and there were guidelines as to when they are said to have recovered.

“After the stipulated isolation period some may still test positive after  repeat  Covid-19  test,  hence  the  guidance  on  who  is  considered  to  have recovered.  It  is  fortunate  that  there  are  already  community  based  Covid-19  task  force members  to  closely  follow  up  the  positive  cases  and  to  offer  them  the  much  needed support  during  the  isolation  period  and  for  these  processes  to  be  integrated  and  to avoid unnecessary inconveniences and confusion medical doctors should play a role in the process of testing and certification from the beginning.”

Major features of the International Covid-19 Passport include a Black covered passport-size booklet, front cover written ‘COVID-19 TRAVELLERS CLEARANCE PASSPORT’ in gold, with a clear ‘Global Travellers Health Agency logo’ also in gold in the middle and written at the bottom INTERNATIONAL in gold.

At the bottom of the letters will be a faint water mark of the Global Travellers Health Agency logo. Inside of front cover will have details of the traveller, including their passport size photo, name, gender, birth date, issue date, passport number and occupation. It will also have the logo for ICTCMA and the official’s signature. Pages2–45 will be for sticking the detailed globally standardized Covid-19 test confirmation Certificate.

“One  of  the  things  that  we  are  advocating  for  as  an Association  is  awareness  for International travellers, they have to be cognizant of the fact that all these measures that are  put  in  place  by  health  officials  are  meant  to  protect  them  and their  loved  ones  as they travel to their desired destinations and hence it is in bad taste to seek to use a fake Covid-19  certificate.

“Travellers  would  be  more  confident  knowing  that  the  person travelling  next  to  them  are  carrying  a  standardized  document and  hence  have  gone through  a  similar  standardized  process  of  testing  and  certification  as  them.  For  a pandemic   of   the   magnitude   of   Covid-19   we   cannot   afford   to   continue   having uncoordinated  screening  mechanisms  for  travellers.  As  an  association  we  call  upon  all progressive  organizations  to  partner  with  us  in  awareness  and  to  help  us  amplify  our voices  in  advocacy  for  standardized  models  to  assist  in  the  fight  against  the  spread  of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dr Muloyiswa.


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