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Thousands at risk from reused nose swabs at airport

Several employees of a pharmaceutical company have been arrested in Indonesia for allegedly washing and reselling used COVID nasal swab test kits, reports BBC News. Up to 9,000 passengers at the airport may have been tested with the reused swab sticks, say police.

State-owned company Kimia Farma is now reportedly facing a potential lawsuit launched on behalf of the travellers. Police said they believed the scam had been happening since last December at Kualanamu airport in Medan, North Sumatra.

Following complaints from passengers that they had received false positive test results, police sent an undercover officer to pose as a passenger last week, reported local news outlet Detik. When he was swabbed and received a positive test result, other officers swooped in and raided the test site, where they found a used test kit that had been recycled.

Last week, five Kimia Farma employees – including the company's Medan manager – were arrested. The suspects are accused of breaking health and consumer laws by washing nasal swab sticks and repackaging them for sale.

This week, two lawyers who frequently flew via Kualanamu airport in recent months, said they were planning to sue Kimia Farma, the South China Morning Post reports.

Indonesia has seen one of the worst Covid outbreaks in Asia, and overall has recorded about 1.7m positive cases and more than 46,000 deaths linked to the pandemic.

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