HOSPITALS in Alicante Province say they’ve been hit by patients pretending to have COVID-19 symptoms to get a free PCR test with a same day result.
The regional Informacion newspaper reports that local emergency rooms have seen an uptake in ‘bogus’ patients in recent days.
They want to make sure they are virus-free ahead of joining families and friends for their traditional Christmas meal.
Many of the instances have seen people be totally upfront over why they are taking up valuable hospital time.
Health workers are told that the tests are needed because ‘I have to have dinner with my relatives and I am worried’.
The ‘worried’ patients are targeting hospitals rather than their local health centre because it is the only way that they can get a free PCR test quickly.
Health centre policy in cases where somebody appears with coronavirus symptoms is to send people home without a test.
They are told to self-isolate, ahead of arranging a test a few days later.
If the symptoms worsen to a fever, then a test will be brought forward.
Hospital procedures though are to treat every patient as if they might be coronavirus-positive, and tests are carried out immediately.
Besides adding an extra strain on hard-pressed medical staff, the irony of a ‘fake’ patient claiming they might have the virus is that they are put in a separate area ahead of testing.
That area may have people who genuinely have COVID-19 and therefore the bogus visitor might end up catching the coronavirus from being close to carriers in the hospital.
A health source told Informacion: “Dedicated health staff just can’t understand why self-centred citizens want to take advantage of the system to get a free test but could end up being infected themselves for the sake not spending a euro.”