Spoedtest.nl, a testing site for those wishing to get access to the various sectors which require the CoronaCheck QR codes for entry, recently came under investigation for providing fraudulent test results, reports Ornella Durand.
Just as it seemed to be the case last summer, the months of June, July and August 2021 almost made it feel like COVID-19 was disappearing, with cases per day and hospital admissions slowing down. However the months after have seen a concerning rise in coronavirus figures, and has led to the government tightening measures. The Dutch government was one of the first European countries to impose stricter regulations this winter in an attempt to keep the virus at bay as the weather gets colder.
On September 25, life in the Netherlands changed when ‘testen voor toegang’, or ‘testing for access’ in English, became mandatory for entry to indoor facilities such as bars and restaurants. This is facilitated by the CoronaCheck app where users must present a QR code indicating their safe status. The conditions which need to be met in order to generate a QR code include: fully-vaccinated status, proof of recovery, or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours prior to entry.
Since this regulation was enacted, many non-vaccinated individuals have opted to receive their negative COVID-19 test QR code from the establishment Spoedtest.nl. The Dutch company is responsible for an estimated 20% of all COVID-19 tests taken in the Netherlands with over 100 testing locations, making it the largest company on the Dutch market.
However, Spoedtest.nl has recently been suspected of providing fraudulent test results. The Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sports filed a report against the company for issuing fraudulent vaccination certificates. These accusations have led to the codes issued by Spoedtest.nl being declared invalid and the removal of the company from the ‘testen voor toegang’ system. As a result, Spoedtest.nl can no longer offer customers COVID-19 tests or QR codes on the CoronaCheck app.The chairman of Spoedtest.nl Rasmus Emmelkamp has stated that he “regrets the drastic decision of the ministry,” denying the allegations made against his firm.
The option for organizations to manually register vaccination statuses onto the CoronaCheck app was created in response to frequent issues with the pre-existing automated registration system, which was found to be inconsistent in providing fully-vaccinated or negative-testing users with valid QR codes. An input portal was established to give organizations like Spoedtest.nl access to the app. The process of entering test results involved logging in with two-factor authentication, then manually inputting COVID test results in the system, followed by the generation of QR codes.
The five Spoedtest.nl employees who had access to the app deny suspicions of having abused the system to provide unlawful vaccination certificates. Emmelkamp has confirmed these claims and continued to assert that none of his employees engaged in such reprimandable behavior. He has said in a statement, “we are working with the ministry to investigate this. We also want to get to the bottom of things.”
It is interesting to note that the accusations against Spoedtest.nl arose around the same time as when the company’s board sent a letter addressed to their employees warning them of potentially fraudulent behavior by GGD (Municipal Health Services) staff in connection to coronavirus QR codes. In the letter, Spoedtest.nl announced that extra caution would be deployed and staff actions would be closely monitored, while also highlighting that the company trusted its employees not to act fraudulently. Only a few days later, the feared fraud expressed in the letter manifested into reality when the report suspecting Spoedtest.nl activity was filed. While Emmelkamp denies any connection between the letter and the alleged fraud, the company is now under official investigation.
These events certainly pose an ominous question for the Dutch residents: in times of pandemic-driven uncertainty, if one cannot trust COVID-19 testing facilities to act diligently, how can we beat the virus?