Indonesia Tests Thousands of Air Travelers with Re-Used Nasal Swab Covid Screening Kits

In a glaring lapse reported in Indonesia, close to 10,000 air travelers were screened for Covid-19 with re-used nasal swab test kits. It has emerged that a firm has been exposed reusing the nasal kits by washing it.

Reports said several employees of a pharmaceutical company have been arrested by the authorities for running the scam. The horrific incident was reported from Medan, where as many as 9,000 passengers were subjected to the disgusting practice.

The authorities have launched a criminal probe into state-owned company Kimia Farma for cutting corners even as the country is going through a particularly taxing phase of the coronavirus pandemic. The state-owned enterprise Kimia Farma, which is headquartered in Jakarta, has dismissed key staff and ordered an internal inquiry.

Nasopharynx swab
Representational Picture Wikimedia Commons

According to the police, the fraudulent testing was happening since December at Kualanamu airport in Medan, North Sumatra, BBC reported. The arrest of the senior officials of Kimia Farma took place last week, the authorities revealed.

It is estimated that the company officials made a profit of at least 1.8 billion rupiah ($124,800) through the scam. The investigators have witness account from at least 23 people, who testified to the modus operandi.

The pandemic was particularly harsh on Indonesia, which is among the worst hit countries in Asia. The country has recorded more than 1.7 million positive cases and more than 46,000 deaths so far.

Covid test
Coronavirus testing in U.S. Pixabay

In late April, Indonesia's food and drug authority BPOM issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm.

Previously, Indonesia had approved the emergency use for three other brands of Covid-19 vaccines, namely the CoronaVac produced by the Chinese company Sinovac, the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the state-company PT Bio Farma in collaboration with Sinovac, and the AstraZeneca vaccine.