Up to 9,000 passengers at an airport in Medan may have been tested with the reused swab sticks, say police.
State-owned company Kimia Farma is now reportedly facing a potential lawsuit launched on behalf of the travelers.
Covid nasal swab testing has become routine in many countries hit by the global pandemic.
Police said they believed the scam had been happening since last December at Kualanamu airport in Medan, North Sumatra. It is not yet confirmed how they discovered the ruse.
Passengers are required to have a negative test if they want to fly, and the airport offers the option of getting the swabs done on site. Airport authorities had used antigen rapid test kits supplied by Kimia Farma.
Last week, five Kimia Farma employees including the company’s Medan manager were arrested by the police. The suspects are accused of breaking health and consumer laws by washing nasal swab sticks and repackaging them for sale.
Local media report that authorities have compiled reports from 23 witnesses, and are investigating whether the profit from the scam – estimated to be around 1.8bn rupiah (£89,700; $124,800) – was used to fund the construction of a lavish house for one of the suspects.
Kimia Farma, which is headquartered in the capital Jakarta, has since fired the staff involved and promised to tighten internal controls.
Copy Right: BBC