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Indonesian Airport Workers Accused of Reusing Swabs on Passengers

As many as 9,000 people may have been sampled with used nasal swabs. 
IMAGE TOTO SANTIKO BUDI/SHUTTERSTOCK
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Airport workers at Indonesia’s Kualanamu International Airport were arrested after they were discovered reusing nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing on travelers. As many as 9,000 people received used swabs, according to a report by the Washington Post

According to local police, the staff from state-owned pharmaceutical Kimia Farma have been rinsing used swabs instead of disposing of them so they can use them again on passengers. They have been doing it since 2020. 

Police investigation revealed one worker, who has since been fired, had been profiting from the “savings” incurred on the used swabs in order to buy a posh house. The suspects had profited roughly P6 million from reused testing kits in just a few months, according to police. 

As many as 200 passengers opt to get their swab tests at the airport every day. Each testing kit costs P600. That means the suspects had been making P120,000 a day on reused nasal swabs. 

The crime was uncovered after a series of false-positive test results were traced back to the suspects' operations. According to local police, an undercover cop was sent to get tested at the airport. The cop tested positive at the airport, had negative results elsewhere. That means he was possibly infected at the airport with the reused nasal swab. 

Indonesia is among the hardest-hit countries by the pandemic. The total cases is more than 1.6 million, with nearly 47,000 deaths.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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