BERLIN (Reuters) – German Health Minister Jens Spahn and his counterparts in the 16 federal states will on Monday discuss control mechanisms for coronavirus test centers following fraud accusations, a ministry spokesman said on Sunday.

Since allegations of potential fraud at several providers were made public earlier this week and Spahn said on Saturday that there will be stricter controls, a debate has started on how to control the test centres and who should be in charge.

Germany offers its citizens at least one free coronavirus test per week, with several federal states providing one free test a day. The state pays 18 euros ($22) per test. As a result, private test centres have been set up en masse in recent weeks.

Some coronavirus test centres have been charging for more tests than they have carried out, daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and broadcaster ARD reported this week.

“I find it incomprehensible that despite warnings Jens Spahn has left such loopholes for cheaters,” Lars Klingbeil, Secretary General of the opposition Social Democrats, told daily Tagesspiegel’s Sunday edition.

The health minister announced more random checks on Saturday. “Pragmatism is necessary these days. Those who exploit that must not be allowed to get away with it.”

Spahn will have a call with his state counterparts on Monday morning and discuss next steps, the spokesman said.

The number of new coronavirus cases in Germany has fallen further this weekend. The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases reported a 3,852 rise in cases on Sunday, 2,862 less than a week earlier. The seven-day rate of infection fell to 35 per 100,000 people, down from around 64 last week.

So far, Germany has seen 3.68 million cases, the death toll stands at 88,406. Around 42% of its population have been given at least a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, 17% have had their second dose.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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