UK (Sky News)

Coronavirus: Pharmacist arrested in probe over illegal COVID-19 test kits

By July 1, 2020 No Comments

A pharmacist has been arrested during an investigation into the illegal sale of coronavirus testing kits.

He was held by officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) who searched two properties and seized £20,000 in cash.

The pharmacist, 46, from Croydon, south London, was arrested under the Fraud Act for allegedly making false claims about the testing kits’ capability.

A surveyor, 39, was arrested in west London on a similar allegation as the NCA targets suspects thought to be cashing in on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The surveyor was stopped in his car in Uxbridge, where investigators found 250 kits which he allegedly said he planned to sell to construction workers.

Both suspects were freed on bail while the separate investigations continue.

Nikki Holland, the NCA’s director of investigations, said: “Criminals capitalise on fear and anxiety and they will exploit any opportunity, no matter how awful, to line their pockets.

“Illegally selling testing kits completely undermines the nation’s collective response to the pandemic and actually endangers lives.

“Anyone thinking of trying to profit in this way should take note of these arrests and that bringing these offenders to justice and ceasing their activities is a key priority across law enforcement.”

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Tariq Sarwar, head of operations for enforcement at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said: “The use of products for the diagnosis of coronavirus infection in community settings, such as pharmacies, for home use, is not at present advised by Public Health England.

“There are no CE marked tests for home use, and it is illegal to supply such products. The safety, performance or quality of the products cannot be guaranteed and this poses a health risk.”

The NCA said it had also taken down a website using phishing emails to lure customers into buying suspected non-existent personal protection equipment (PPE).

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