Jakarta, May 7: Police in Indonesia have unearthed a major scam related to rapid antigen nasal swab kits, used to test if a person is infected with coronavirus or COVID-19. According to a report by CNN, the scammers reused nasal swab kits, leaving up to 10,000 airline passengers at risk of contracting coronavirus. Police have arrested five employees for major Indonesian pharmaceutical company Kimia Farma in connection with the scam. Indonesia Bans Travelling Home for Eid Al-Fitr.
Kimia Farma sells rapid antigen nasal swab kits at the Kualanamu International Airport in Medan, North Sumatra. Police said the accused employees allegedly washed and repacked used nasal swab kits and reused them on passengers at the Kualanamu International Airport. The scam had been ongoing for about four months, police said. The exact number of the victims on whom nasal swab kits were reused is yet to be ascertained.
"They started their crime on December 17, 2020. If every day they have 50 to 100 customers, the victims number are estimated to be about 10,000," Grand Commissioner Hadi Wahyudi, spokesperson of the North Sumatra Police, was quoted by CNN as saying. The arrested employees include a business manager of Kimia Farma's Medan unit. Indonesia Approves Emergency Use of Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine.
During a raid, police recovered recycled cotton swabs, recycled packaging, and 149 million rupiah ($10,000) in cash from the possession of the accused persons. Indonesia has mandated negative COVID-19 report for domestic flyers. Passengers would pay 200,000 rupiah ($14) for each antigen test swab. The scam is estimated to have garnered thousands of dollars for the perpetrators.
Police have booked the accused employees under Indonesia's health law, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment if found guilty, and under the country's consumer protection law, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence. Erick Thohir, Indonesia's minister of state-owned enterprises, have demanded strict punishment for those involved.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on May 06, 2021 06:15 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).