Bits and BobsPharma employees arrested for reusing Covid nasal swab tests on passengers at Medan airport.

It's nose use: Nasal swab scam busted in Indonesia

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Some 9,000 passengers passing through Kualanamu airport in Medan, North Sumatra since December may have been affected by the nose scams.
Some 9,000 passengers passing through Kualanamu airport in Medan, North Sumatra since December may have been affected by the nose scams. Photo Credit: Getty Images/vichie81

Several pharmaceutical employees in Indonesia have been arrested for washing and then repackaging Covid test kits for sale to some 9,000 passengers at the Kualanamu airport in Medan, North Sumatra.

State-owned Kimia Farma faces a potential lawsuit, after local police said the nose scams could have started as early as last December, where travellers have been tested with tainted swab sticks.

The reveal came after passengers raised complaints of receiving false positive test results, which prompted the force to send an undercover police to pose as a passenger waiting to fly, according to local news outlet Detik.

The undercover officer went as far as finishing the swab and getting a positive result, before his colleagues raided the site — and found that a used test kit had been recycled.

Authorities are investigating if profits from this scam, pegged at around $1.8 billion rupiah (US$125,000), are indeed being used to fund a lavish property belonging to one of the arrested suspects.

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