Germany plans stricter control of COVID-19 test centres amid fraud claims

·1-min read
Newly opened COVID-19 testing site at the "Revolte Bar", in Berlin

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

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will introduce stricter controls on the administering of coronavirus tests, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Saturday, after local media reports accused some centres of accounting fraud.

"There will be more random checks," Spahn said on Twitter. "Pragmatism is necessary these days. Those who exploit that must not be allowed to get away with it.”

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

Some coronavirus test centres have been charging for more tests than they have carried out, daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and broadcaster ARD reported this week.

Prosecutors in the city of Bochum opened an investigation into one center following the reports.

The number of new coronavirus cases in Germany has fallen steadily in the past weeks.

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

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Mike Harrison)

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