Indonesian cops investigate cotton swab reuse in Covid-19 tests at airport, Southeast Asia
JAKARTA – Indonesian police are investigating a case involving agents from state-owned pharmaceutical company Kimia Farma who reused a cotton swab on passengers performing rapid Covid-19 antigen tests at an airport in northern province from Sumatra.
A cotton swab used to rub the nasopharyngeal cavity of passengers at Kualanamu International Airport was washed and then reused on other passengers, police said. Police have yet to find the motive.
Each traveler is charged between 200,000 rupees (S $ 18) and 300,000 rupees at Indonesian airports for on-site Covid-19 testing, if they show no evidence that they have tested negative for coronavirus in the past 24 hours. hours. Tests are also carried out on arriving passengers.
These tests are available in private clinics and hospitals, as well as drive-thru centers where people can request tests through various mobile apps.
The North Sumatra Provincial Police Special Crime Division raided the airport on Tuesday afternoon, April 27, following a suspiciously high number of complaints from people who were kicked out of the airport after having tested positive.
Police arrested a number of testers and seized evidence during the raid.
“We are investigating the matter,” said North Sumatran Police Chief Dadang Hartanto.
In a statement to reporters on Wednesday, Kimia Farma Managing Director Adil Fadilah Bulqini said: “We fully support the police investigation into this matter. What the rogue Kimia Farma field testers did hurt business … and is a serious breach of the rule.
The investigation follows a decision by the Indonesian government on Monday to temporarily ban all foreign visitors who have visited India in the past 14 days.
Indonesians who have traveled to India in the past 14 days will be quarantined for 14 days and will undergo a genetic sequencing case analysis for possible variants of the faster spreading coronavirus.
New variants of the coronavirus first detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil, which appear to be spreading more efficiently, are believed to have fueled infections in India. The South Asian country has loosened its guard as these new variants spread.
Indonesia has so far had a successful vaccination campaign with around 12 million of its population receiving the first dose of Covid-19 vaccination and 7.2 million receiving the second.
The world’s fourth most populous country had 100,256 active coronavirus cases on Tuesday, a significant drop from around 177,000 at the peak in early February.
India currently has around 2.9 million active cases, up from 138,000 in February.