Oops: Amritsar Airport COVID-19 Testing Error Blamed For Positive Results

Oops: Amritsar Airport COVID-19 Testing Error Blamed For Positive Results

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This explains a lot…

Huge number of coronavirus cases on two flights from Italy to India

Over the past several days I’ve written about a shocking number of positive coronavirus cases on two charter flights from Italy to India. For flights from high-risk countries, India requires not only testing prior to travel, but also testing upon arrival in India.

While it’s not unusual to have some people test positive for coronavirus upon arrival, two flights in particular had a bizarre number of positive cases (again, all travelers were negative before departure):

Something seemed off here, as I noted when I first wrote about this. Yes, omicron is incredibly contagious, but these positivity numbers were simply shocking, and were unlike anything we’ve seen before. The other bizarre coincidence here was that the two charter flights were operated by exactly the same aircraft. Not just the same airline, but literally the same tail number.

As it turns out, there’s an explanation…

Lab blamed for positive coronavirus test results

New reports suggest that a majority of the post-travel tests may have produced inaccurate results, as a majority of passengers retested, and were negative. Officials have now ordered a probe into the lab that conducted these tests (which has only been working with the airport for a few weeks), and the lab is no longer being used by the airport.

According to Assistant Civil Surgeon Dr. Amarjit Singh:

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

Oops…

Bottom line

Something seemed off when ~80% of passengers on two flights tested positive for coronavirus, especially since they had been tested before travel. Previously we had seen some flights where ~10% of passengers tested positive, which was otherwise a record.

But this just seemed like an inexplicable number, so it seems that the lab is to blame.

Are you surprised to see an error like this?

Conversations (11)
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  1. Sim Kaur Guest

    I feel I have also been mislead by this same lab that put me out as positive, despite testing negative a day before and testing negative a day after, causing me to miss my flight. But I also think that the staff have their own rules at this airport and there is likely corruption and nasty politics also at play.

  2. Kent Guest

    To be frank, no one in India cares about such news. It's comic to see this article being circulated on this blog - but again, there isn't really much news to cover these days.

    I cannot comment on Amritsar but I have been tested at Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi when entering India for work recently. The processes were systematic and seamless.

    On my departure, I register for testing using Apollo's mobile app. Again, a seamless...

    To be frank, no one in India cares about such news. It's comic to see this article being circulated on this blog - but again, there isn't really much news to cover these days.

    I cannot comment on Amritsar but I have been tested at Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi when entering India for work recently. The processes were systematic and seamless.

    On my departure, I register for testing using Apollo's mobile app. Again, a seamless process where the technician comes to my hotel room to collect my sample. I receive my results within 12 hours.

    I find the covid testing capabilities (and medical treatment at private hospitals) in India to be easier and more accessible than in other countries. So while I agree with a comment that the level of professionalism varies wildly between countries, the professionalism with medical testing in India is on the higher side. As a benchmark consider testing that I have received in the US and the UK. I have had anywhere from a nurse jamming two swabs up my nostril directly towards my brain to touching just the tip of my nostril during testing in NY; absolutely ridiculous especially considering that my latest RT-PCR test cost me USD200 in NY versus USD 7 in Delhi. These are my experiences only.

  3. Jaa Guest

    Well, that’s a positive outcome! Lol. The whole draconian quarantine threat has been a huge deterrent to travel for many!

  4. Luke Guest

    Apparently 10 people escaped while in transit to quarantine from this flight. Wonder if even after this news the police is trying to hunt down these fugitives.

    1. Sarthak Guest

      Yep I agree. I’ve tested in the US, Colombia, EU and India since the pandemic and still rank the testing infrastructure in India as top notch. It’s easy and to some extent understandable to stereotype the covid management in India after the Delta wave, but I think the failures were largely government driven. I did an Antigen test yesterday before flying BOM-EWR on United and it cost $2. RT PCR was $8. There were no...

      Yep I agree. I’ve tested in the US, Colombia, EU and India since the pandemic and still rank the testing infrastructure in India as top notch. It’s easy and to some extent understandable to stereotype the covid management in India after the Delta wave, but I think the failures were largely government driven. I did an Antigen test yesterday before flying BOM-EWR on United and it cost $2. RT PCR was $8. There were no less than six labs that were operating right outside the terminal and the Govt has now even stepped into regulate prices when the airport owner was levying a hefty fees for tests.

  5. Greg Guest

    The Liverpool football team postponed a match due to positive Covid tests, only to find out there were a number of false positives!

  6. Santastico Guest

    You will be surprised how many of these tests are inaccurate. I have a friend that tested positive for Covid with an antigen test and he repeated that test 5 times including PCR and all were negative. He had absolutely no symptoms and didn’t know of any exposure. Go figure how many more people are on the same boat. Any stomach upset is no Covid related. ‍♂️

    1. Kent Guest

      Agreed. Antigen tests are useless and there are other illnesses also. In fact most recommend testing via RT-PCR despite a negative antigen test. Therefore, there is no point in wasting money on a RAT.

  7. Never In Doubt Guest

    This is the story that keeps on giving (clicks!)

  8. Chris D Guest

    It feels like this lab was only identified because of the completely unrealistic results.

    I’m wonder how many labs are not being identified because they are putting out results that are realistic? How many people are being made to quarantine who are not positive, and how many people are spreading the virus because they think they are negative.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      I'm sure the numbers in all those groups are not insignificant.

      I've been tested in 5 different countries, at, what appear to me, to be, wildly different levels of professionalism.

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Never In Doubt Guest

This is the story that keeps on giving (clicks!)

2
Chris D Guest

It feels like this lab was only identified because of the completely unrealistic results. I’m wonder how many labs are not being identified because they are putting out results that are realistic? How many people are being made to quarantine who are not positive, and how many people are spreading the virus because they think they are negative.

1
Sim Kaur Guest

I feel I have also been mislead by this same lab that put me out as positive, despite testing negative a day before and testing negative a day after, causing me to miss my flight. But I also think that the staff have their own rules at this airport and there is likely corruption and nasty politics also at play.

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