Reused Nose Swab Scam in Indonesia Airport, Five Arrested

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At least 9,000 passengers at an airport in Medan, Indonesia are possibly tested with reused swab sticks, according to the police. 

State-owned pharmaceutical company Kimia Farma is now facing a potential lawsuit filed by the travelers. 

Reusing of Nasal Swab Test

Due to the global pandemic, a negative COVID nasal swab test is required before a passenger can travel. The Kualanamu airport in Medan, North Sumatra has an option to get the swabs done on-site that uses the antigen rapid test kits from Kimia Farma. 

However, the authorities have received complaints from passengers, saying that they have received false-positive test results. The police sent an undercover officer to post as a passenger. 

When the undercover agent was swabbed and got a positive test result, officers raided the test site, where they found a recycled test kit. 

Police speculate that the scam has been happening since last December at the said airport. 

Last week, five Kimia Farma employees, including the manager, were accused of breaking health and consumer laws by washing nasal swab sticks and repacking them for sale. 

Authorities have compiled reports from 23 witnesses and investigation is ongoing whether the estimated 1.8 bn rupiah (£89,700; $124,800) profit was used to fund the construction of a lavish house of one of the suspects. 

The pharmaceutical company has since fired those involved and pledge to tighten internal controls.