Private labs offer fake Covid negative report for foreign travel

It is mandatory for air passengers to produce Covid-negative test reports before foreign travel for employment and study

Vijayawada: As it is mandatory for air passengers to produce Covid-negative test reports before foreign travel for employment and study, several persons are approaching ‘bookies’ to arrange such fake reports. They do so in collusion with some private labs functioning in various districts of AP.

Though the director-general of civil aviation has extended all scheduled international passenger flights up to Feb. 28, some flights are being operated under Vande Bharat Mission and under the Air Bubble arrangement with 28 countries. Among these countries are the US, the UK, the UAE and France.

Vijayawada International Airport records three departures and nine arrivals of flights a week from Muscat, Kuwait, Bahrain, Dubai, Singapore etc under the Vande Bharat Mission. Hundreds of air passengers avail this facility every day.

Similarly, the Visakhapatnam International Airport too is allowing operation of three flights to Singapore a week under the Air Bubble arrangement.

It is mandatory to have an RT-PCR negative test done and report obtained 24 hours before boarding the flight under the Air Bubble arrangement and before 48 hours, under the Vande Bharat Mission.

With Omicron spreading rapidly, some of those who intend to take foreign travel are hesitating to take RT-PCR test fearing that, if it turned positive, their plans for travel will be thwarted. Hence they are approaching some ‘bookies’ arranging fake negative test reports.

Their modus operandi is to take the swab sample of a healthy person and feed the details of the passenger like his/her name, residential address, Aadhaar and mobile numbers etc in the CoWIN app. The test result will come as Covid negative with no the details of actual giver of the swab sample but only of the passenger.

Some private labs doing the RT-PCR tests are resorting to such an illegal practice in collusion with bookies and charging between Rs 1,500 and Rs 3,000 per Covid19 negative report.

The labs assure that there is no chance of a detection of fraud at any level as they enter “genuine details” of the passenger but test the wrong swab sample in the lab with nobody to detect the fraud.

A private lab owner in Visakhapatnam said, “We will arrange an RT-PCR negative report to the air traveller irrespective of whether he or she tests Covid positive or negative.”

With more people going abroad for study or employment despite the threat of Covid, bookies along with some private labs are making money by foul means and endangering the health of passengers in the flights.

These bookies are even ready to deliver the RT-PCR negative test reports to those who seek them at the airports, as there is no need for them to collect swab samples and test them beforehand.

However, the bookies are to be provided with requisite information a few hours in advance for getting such a report and even the scanning of QR Code will not detect any fraud as only genuine details will be fed to the app.

Air passengers who intend to travel abroad with genuine Covid test reports say the state government should step in and curb such illegal practice.

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