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Indonesia: Reused COVID-19 nasal swabs scam busted at airport, World News

Employees of a pharmaceutical company have been arrested in Indonesia for allegedly reusing nasal swab kits intended for Covid testing. According to local police, at least 9,000 passengers may have been tested with the swabs which were reportedly washed and reused.

Given the risks of catching the virus owing to this, the state-owned company Kimia Farma is now facing a lawsuit on behalf of the travellers. Most countries undertake nasal swab testing at airports to limit the transmission of the virus which is now wreaking havoc across Asia.

The police were reported by BBC as saying that the scam had been going on since December 2020 at the Kualanamu airport in Medan, North Sumatra. It is mandatory for passengers to carry Covid negative reports before flying. In the absence of this, the airport offers swab testing on the site to passengers. The authorities had been using antigen rapid test kits supplied by Kimia Farma.

Also read: China refutes reports that said it used Covid-19 anal swabs on US diplomats

Suspicion began after passengers reported that they were getting false positive test results. Due to this, police sent an undercover officer to pose as a passenger last week, local media reported. He was swabbed and reported positive, after which officers raided the test site. They found that the test kit used on the police officer was recycled.

Just a week back, five employees of Kimia Farma were arrested for being accused of washing nasal swabs and repackaging them for sale.

Also read: China deploys anal swabs to test for coronavirus

Authorities have taken into account reports 23 witnesses to estimate that a profit of $124,800 (1.88 billion rupiah) may have been made through this scam. They believe the money was used to construct a lavish house for one of the suspects.

Since the revelation, Kimia Farma has fired the staff involved in the scam with promises to tighten internal regulations.

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