MEDAN, KOMPAS.com – Regional Police in the Indonesian province of North Sumatra has estimated that reused antigen rapid test swab kits by Kimia Farma pharmaceutical company personnel at Kualanamu International Airport has affected thousands of travelers.
North Sumatra Regional Police chief Inspector General Panca Putra Simanjuntak said the syndicate, which was led by an individual identified as PC, Kimia Farma’s regional Business Manager, started to snare their victims in December 2020.
“We estimated that [the Kimia Farma ring] used the old rapid test kits on 100 to 150, even 200 travelers on a daily basis before they boarded their flights,” said Panca in a press conference in North Sumatra’s provincial capital Medan Friday.
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“If those samples are used on at least 100 [people] daily over a 90 day period, or over 9 thousand people. The perpetrators made about Rp. 1.8 billion [$124,630.44] since their racket started in December 2020.”
Running the operation
Aside from PC, the police also detained his accomplices DP, SP, MR and RN. “PC coordinated the scam from Kimia Farma’s laboratory in Medan,” Panca said. SP and DP confirmed the investigators’ findings.
“We would choose swabs that have undamaged exteriors to be disinfected with 75 percent alcohol at the laboratory," both suspects confirmed. "These rapid test kits will be passed off as new and reused on passengers requesting rapid tests before their flight.”
Another accomplice, MR, would type negative or positive results on the used tests, depending on their original outcome. “PC also ordered me to manipulate [Covid-19 positive] data, to make it look like a genuine investigation report,” he admitted.
“On the other hand, RN ‘registered’ the victims and counted the total number [of travelers] who are manipulated into taking the tests.”