Germany plans tighter control of COVID-19 test centers amid fraud allegations


(Corrects the city in which prosecutors opened an investigation in Bochum (not Braunschweig) in the fifth paragraph)

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will introduce tighter controls on the administration of coronavirus tests, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Saturday after local media accused some centers of accounting fraud.

“There will be more random checks,” Spahn said on Twitter. “Pragmatism is needed these days. Those who exploit this should not be allowed to get away with it.”

Germany offers its citizens at least one free coronavirus test per week, with several federal states offering one free test per day. The state pays 18 euros ($ 21.94) per test. Many private test centers have been created in recent weeks.

Some coronavirus testing centers are charging more for tests than they performed, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and broadcaster ARD reported this week.

Bochum city prosecutors opened an investigation into a center following this information.

The number of new coronavirus cases in Germany has declined steadily in recent weeks.

The Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases reported an increase of 5,426 cases to 3.66 million on Saturday, 1,656 from less than a week earlier. The seven-day infection rate fell to 37 per 100,000 people, from about 67 last week. The death toll stands at 88,350.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Mike Harrison)

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