India World

India probes private laboratory for faulty Covid-19 tests on passengers arriving from Italy

Indian officials are investigating a private laboratory accused of faulty Covid-19 tests on passengers on two flights from Italy last week.

At least 173 passengers from Rome, and 125 travellers from Milan tested positive on arrival in Amritsar.

Thirty of them were tested again at the airport but only three people tested positive for Covid the second time.

Airport officials have supposedly stopped using the services of the lab, SpiceHealth, for now.

“If it’s a manufacturing fault, we have to follow certain guidelines. If it’s a human or procedural fault, then we will certainly take action,” airport director VK Seth said.

Preliminary investigations suggests that the controls of the machines were not working properly, and that the issue was being investigated at the “highest levels”.

SpiceHealth was hired by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on 15 December to test passengers arriving from high-risk countries as per government rules.

India is currently in the third wave of the pandemic, which experts believe is led by the Omicron variant.

In a statement, SpiceHealth said that given the “alarmingly high positivity rate of passengers” on the two charter flights from Italy, “we have decided to conduct a detailed technical investigation and decontamination”.

“SpiceHealth has used technology specified by the airport and followed all protocols listed by the manufacturer and national accreditation agencies,” the lab said.

India has so far recorded more than 35 million Covid cases and around 484,000 deaths from the virus.