The inquiry was necessitated seeing the huge numbers and questions raised by passengers on the veracity of tests, said officials.

The Punjab health department has ordered a probe into Covid-19 testing being conducted by a private laboratory at Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport in Amritsar after 172 more Italy returnees were found positive on Friday, taking the total to 297 in two days.

The inquiry was necessitated seeing the huge numbers and questions raised by passengers on the veracity of tests, said officials.

All 285 passengers who landed at the airport on a EuroAtlantic Airways flight chartered by SpiceJet from Italy, an “at-risk” country, underwent RT-PCR testing on their arrival on Friday. Of them, 172 were found positive for Covid-19, said airport director VK Seth.

This happens a day after 125 out of 179 Italy returnees on another chartered flight had tested positive for Covid-19, leading to chaos at the airport and posing a major quarantine challenge to the authorities. However, no such chaos was reported on Friday.

“As passengers have tested positive for Covid-19 in such a huge number on second consecutive day, it has raised a question on their testing procedure. In view of this, we have decided to conduct tests of 75 passengers again and probe the lab,” said Amritsar civil surgeon Dr Charanjit Singh, who ordered the inquiry.

All +ve returnees quarantined

Meanwhile, three of Thursday’s 13 positive returnees who belong to Amritsar district got admitted to the quarantine centre at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital on Friday. The remaining 10 are isolated at home, said a government spokesperson.

All those who testing positive on Friday were allowed to isolate at home under the surveillance of the health department’ teams.

After the positive returnees had left for their homes on Thursday in violation of rules, the Amritsar deputy commissioner had warned of booking them under the Epidemic Act and Disaster Management Act if they fail to comply by Friday.


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