Covid tests probed after 100s on 2 Italy-India flights are positive

Health officials in India said on Friday they would retest some 300 passengers on two flights that tested positive for the coronavirus upon landing in the northern city of Amritsar, as the results raised questions about the accuracy of the tests.

Authorities said 125 people who flew from Italy to Amritsar tested positive on Thursday. All passengers were required to show proof of a negative PCR test before boarding, in accordance with Indian travel rules, a spokesperson for Bergamo airport near Milan said.

Then on Friday at least 173 passengers on another flight from Italy tested positive after landing in Amritsar, the city’s chief medical officer Dr Charanjit Singh said.

The high number of positive tests, all performed by the same testing agency, SpiceHealth, has created doubts as to their accuracy, Dr Singh said.

“From tomorrow, we are changing testing agency,” he added.

Reports of positive tests caused a sensation in India and Italy, especially given the strict rules for traveling between countries. Regular flights between them are suspended until the end of January. The two flights that arrived in Amritsar were charter flights, supposedly carrying Indian nationals working in Italy and their families.

Indian health authorities have designated Italy as a country at high risk for Covid-19. To board a flight from Italy to India, passengers must show proof of a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours of departure, regardless of their vaccination status. Upon arrival in India, all travelers are required to self-isolate for seven days.

All Italian passengers who tested positive this week have been placed in government quarantine facilities, Dr Singh said. It was not immediately clear how soon they would be tested again.

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