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Jakarta Post

COVID-19-free hospital letters offered on e-commerce platforms

 COVID-19-free hospital letters offered on e-commerce platforms Social media user @adriyansyahyazin captured the situation at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, on Thursday morning. (Courtesy of Twitter/-) (Courtesy of Twitter/-)
Budi Sutrisno
Jakarta   ●   Fri, May 15, 2020 2020-05-15 18:57 364 fc6853813033f564188675f8bd86307a 1 National COVID-19,e-commerce,viral,Mitra-Keluarga-Hospital,Tokopedia,Bukalapak,Shopee,letter,PCR-test,rapid-testing Free

Hospital letters declaring the holder COVID-19-free is being offered on a number of e-commerce platforms for people hoping to travel amid the mudik (exodus) ban.

The document includes the letterhead and stamp of hospital operator Mitra Keluarga, complete with a blurred signature of a general practitioner and a watermark of a blocked website address.

Screenshots making the rounds on social media showed the letter was being sold for between Rp 70,000 (US$4.70) and Rp 39 million per copy.

Three e-commerce giants, namely Tokopedia, Bukalapak and Shopee, confirmed that the letter had been available on their platform but reiterated that each copy had been taken down.

The offering went viral amid news of a packed Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, where passengers lined up to get their required travel documents checked by airport authorities, including negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, rapid test results or health documents from a hospital or clinic, to proceed to their flights.

The product sparked online discussions and jokes.

“Yeay! We can buy it. Only with Rp 70,000, we can mudik [exodus]. Like we said previously, eventually they make money from #covidfreeletter #immunitypassport and so on,” Twitter user @DokterPodcast tweeted on Thursday.

Mudik without the hassle of rapid and swab tests. Cheap! Cheap! Let’s order,” @syafrinhd said in a retweet, adding #everythingcanmakemoney.

Mitra Keluarga denied having issued the letters.

“We will take legal action against any parties found using the Mitra Keluarga brand, including our letterhead, without our permission,” the hospital operator said in a statement on Thursday.

Tokopedia external communications senior lead Ekhel Chandra Wijaya said no letters had been purchased on the platform before it took down both the product and the merchant.

“Although Tokopedia uses UGC [user-generated content], where each seller can upload their products independently, we never support such irresponsible practices,” Chandra said in a statement received by The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He urged e-commerce users to report products that violate Tokopedia’s terms and conditions or applicable Indonesian laws through available features on the digital platform.

“We also continue to take proactive actions to keep the activities on Tokopedia on track with prevailing regulations,” he added.

Bukalapak and Shopee both said they had blocked the merchants offering the letter, emphasizing that they were taking strict measures against any products found violating the law.

“We have a team tasked with monitoring the type of products offered to ensure that all sellers meet the rules and to act decisively against any violations, including counterfeit goods,” Bukalapak corporate communications head Intan Wibisono told the Post.

“We will not tolerate actions that exploit a pandemic and endanger public safety,” Shopee Indonesia public relations lead Aditya Maulana Noverdi said separately.

A Facebook user in Bali was previously caught trying to sell a fake health letter required for mudik.

The medical certificate included the letterhead of the West Denpasar Health Agency’s technical management unit (UPTD) and was offered at Rp 250,000 per copy.

The Jembrana Police arrested three suspects around the Gilimanuk Port on Wednesday evening.