Indonesian firm allegedly washed and resold used Covid-19 nasal swab test kits

A pharmaceutical company in Indonesia was allegedly washing and reselling used Covid-19 nasal swab test kits.

Police said over 9,000 passengers at an airport in Medan may have been tested with the reused swab sticks.

State-owned company Kimia Farma is now reportedly facing a potential lawsuit launched on behalf of the travellers.

Covid nasal swab testing has become routine in many countries hit by the global pandemic.

Police said they believed the scam had been happening since last December at Kualanamu airport in Medan, North Sumatra. It is not yet confirmed how they discovered the ruse.

Passengers are required to have a negative test if they want to fly, and the airport offers the option of getting the swabs done on site. Airport authorities had used antigen rapid test kits supplied by Kimia Farma.

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

The scam money estimated to be about $124,800 was used to fund the construction of a lavish house for one of the suspects.

Kimia Farma, which is headquartered in the capital Jakarta, has since fired the staff involved and promised to tighten internal controls.

The Muslim-majority nation has also banned domestic travel at the end of Ramadan this month, a period which traditionally sees people travelling across the country to visit relatives, and introduced heightened restrictions for other dates.

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