Illegal COVID-19 tests confiscated at O’Hare

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection could not say whether the tests were counterfeit, a spokesman said.

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Customs agents in Los Angeles confiscated this package of suspected counterfeit COVID-19 tests on March 12, 2020.

Customs agents in Los Angeles confiscated this package of suspected counterfeit COVID-19 tests on March 12, 2020.

U.S Customs and Border Protection

Customs agents at O’Hare Airport Tuesday intercepted a batch of illegal COVID-19 medical tests shipped from the United Kingdom.

A batch of vials labeled as COVID-19 tests were spread among packages of “test kits” for meningitis, IVF, MRSA and salmonella, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

There was about one COVID-19 test per parcel, but not all of them contained a test for COVID-19, according to the statement.

The Food and Drug Administration deemed the tests unapproved and took them for analysis.

Steve Bansbach, spokesman for CBP, could not say whether the tests were counterfeit.

Currently, the only authorized testing of COVID-19 is performed in state and local health labs across the U.S., according to the statement.

Customs agents in Los Angeles confiscated this package of suspected counterfeit COVID-19 tests on March 12, 2020.

Customs agents in Los Angeles confiscated this package of suspected counterfeit COVID-19 tests on March 12, 2020.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Last week, customs officials at Los Angeles International Airport confiscated a shipment of suspected counterfeit COVID-19 tests. The tests were also from the U.K. in packages labeled “Purified Water Vials.”

Upon inspection, though, the vials were filled with a white liquid and labeled “Corona Virus 2019nconv (COVID-19)” and “Virus1 Test Kit”. The tests were also handed over to the FDA.

Illinois was the first state to test for COVID-19 on its own in early February, but some residents showing symptoms of the virus had trouble getting a test.

Initially, only residents who had been in contact with a known coronavirus patient, or who traveled internationally, were eligible for a test. Some have criticized the federal government for mistakes in not ramping up testing sooner, limiting the number of tests and leading to the severe restrictions.

But restrictions have loosened as testing has increased, and now anyone showing symptoms is eligible for a test.

As of Thursday afternoon, 3,151 COVID-19 tests had been administered in Illinois, and the state will soon be able to test up to 2,000 people per day. About 1,000 tests were conducted Wednesday.

Bansbach warned the public about the dangers of purchasing unapproved, possibly counterfeit medical supplies from overseas.

“When you buy something online, you’re hoping it’s going to be reputable, but you don’t know what you’re going to get,” he said. “People need to be very wary when purchasing stuff online.”

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