With the second wave of COVID-19 on the rise, some destinations require a negative coronavirus test result in order to enter the country. Instead of getting tested, some passengers are forging their certificates.
Some countries or regions will accept a printed hard copy of a negative COVID-19 test result, while others require travelers to create a digital profile and upload a negative test result, which can then be verified by health officials prior to departure.
Travelers found a few ways to go around the system. Some would borrow the negative test results from a friend, change the details to their own and present the document before boarding the flight. Others would buy the negative test results. During the last month, the UK witnessed a resurgence of fake certificates sold on the black market.
There are different reasons why these incidents are reoccurring: high cost of private testing (around £150 and more in the UK), shortage of public testing options and emergency to get the test results immediately.
In Uganda, 23 people were arrested at Entebbe Airport for boarding a plane with forged COVID-19 test documents. Nigeria had an instance in which 40% of passengers on a single flight tested positive for COVID-19, despite presenting negative results prior to boarding. Fake test results can put hundreds of people at risk and make the air travel unreliable for the foreseeable future.
One solution could be to further implement airport testing and a global testing standard. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is set to develop this standard by the end of October 2020.
Earlier in October 2020, rapid tests were introduced at Heathrow Airport in London to allow travelers to enter countries where a negative COVID-19 test result is needed to avoid a lengthy quarantine.