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Lab Blunder to Blame for False Report That 173 People on a Single Flight Had COVID-19

Lab Blunder to Blame for False Report That 173 People on a Single Flight Had COVID-19

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A private laboratory has been blamed for a major testing gaffe that resulted in 298 passengers on just two flights being wrongly told that they were infected with COVID-19. Many of the ‘infected’ passengers onboard the two flights to Amritsar in the Indian state of Punjab sought their own test which revealed that they were in fact Covid free.

The Airports Authority of India has now ordered a probe into the laboratory that carried out the first tests on behalf of local health officials.

Eyebrows were raised last week when a charter flight operated by Euroatlantic Airways from Rome to Amritsar was found to have 125 Covid positive passengers onboard. Although the passengers had tested negative before departure, mandatory testing on arrival differed greatly.

A few days later, a second charter flight smashed the record for the number of Covid positive passengers onboard after 173 of those onboard were apparently found to be infected with COVID-19.

On the first flight, the test positivity rate was believed to be 75 per cent, while the second flight allegedly had a test positivity rate of 82 per cent. The actual number of Covid positive passengers is much smaller, although officials haven’t revealed the amended number.

“A probe has been initiated by the Airports Authority of India against the alleged errant working of the laboratory. The services of the existing Delhi-based laboratory have been suspended,” Assistant Civil Surgeon Dr Amarjit Singh said in comments reported by the New India Express.

“The lab was engaged on December 15 last year by the AAI. Now a new local laboratory has resumed its working at the airport.” 

The Omicron variant has led to record COVID-19 infection surges across Europe but the number of infections found on these flights seemed to be completely out of pace with the local infection rate.

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