UK immigration staff are reporting that more than 100 people a day are trying to enter Britain with fake COVID-test certificates, according to the UK Immigration Services Union (ISU). During a parliamentary evidence session, UK Border Force personnel warned that it is ‘very easy’ to forge the documents – currently needed to enter the UK.
The ISU’s Lucy Moreton also warned that long queues at UK immigration checkpoints are a ‘breeding ground’ for coronavirus. Workpermit.com recently reported that queues at UK immigration checkpoints at Heathrow were up to six hours long.
Under current rules, any person arriving in the UK must provide proof of a negative COVID-test before being allowed through UK immigration controls. The rules also apply to UK citizens and individuals who have been vaccinated.
Negative tests can’t be proven
However, when Ms Moreton was asked how UK immigration staff were able to verify proof of a negative COVID-test, she replied: “We can’t, is the simple answer. Proof is predominantly based on taking people’s word for it. We do get 100 or more a day fake COVID certificates, that we catch.”
Moreton said that the easiest way to spot a fake COVID-test document was to look for spelling errors, but added that checking documents that are in another language makes this difficult. “The documents are checked against a series of code numbers, but these things are easy to create electronically unfortunately,” Moreton said.
“A lot of the border and immigration and migration and quarantine controls are based on trust: we trust people when they say they have not been in a red list country in the last 10 days; we trust people when they say that they are going to 2 Acacia Avenue to quarantine; we trust that there is an Acacia Avenue and that when they are going to go there, they are going to stay there,” Moreton added.
Based on assumption
Moreton said that the whole process of checking COVID-test documentation is based on the assumption that people will ‘do the right thing’.
Meanwhile, international police organisation Europol has previously warned of the emergence of fake COVID certificates, which are reportedly sold for as much as £100.
Speaking at the same parliamentary evidence session attended by Border Force staff, visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol and a member of the Independent Sage committee, Gabriel Scally, raised concerns over the upcoming summer holiday season.
Professor Scally said: “Holiday destinations could become international mixing pots after travel restrictions are relaxed, especially with the government potentially allowing people to head abroad as early as May.”
“I don't believe in reds and greens - I believe in quarantine or not quarantine,” Professor Scally added.
No half quarantine
She went on to add that there is no such thing as a ‘half quarantine’ and that quarantining has to be done properly or not at all. Professor Scally then took a swipe at the government saying: “This has been the UK’s position for far, far too long.”
Professor Scally said: “We have no idea where people are starting their journey, where they transmitted or what transport they’ve used from place to place. This will become a bigger problem in holiday season. Whether a country is green or red to me as a public health doctor, I’m not interested, I want to manage the isolation of people arriving from abroad at this time.”
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