Two of those arrested are employees working at a private lab in Bengaluru.

Representative image of health workers in PPEsRepresentative image
news Crime Monday, December 13, 2021 - 17:40

The Karnataka police have arrested four people for a false RT-PCR report given to the South African national who was later detected to be India’s first Omicron patient. The South African, who was undergoing quarantine in a five-star hotel after testing positive, had managed to leave India just seven days later, after which he travelled to Dubai. It was then learnt that he had managed to leave after producing a negative RT-PCR certificate, which has now been found to be forged. 

The police have said that four people — two staff members working in a private lab in Bengaluru’s Electronic City, and two employees working in the company that the South African national worked at — have been arrested for making the fake RT-PCR report. While the lab employees have been sent to police custody till December 17, the other two employees have been sent to judicial custody. 

The 66-year-old South African national had landed in Bengaluru on November 20, and had tested positive after he was screened at Bengaluru airport. He had checked into a hotel, Shangri La in Bengaluru, and the FIR says that BBMP officials instructed the hotel staff as well as the 66-year-old that he has to be in quarantine for 14 days. Despite telling hotel staff about his quarantine, he was allowed to go out on November 27. When inquired about this, the hotel staff informed officials that he had produced a COVID-19 negative report, checked out on November 27, took a cab to the Bengaluru airport and left for Dubai.

According to reports, the South African national wanted to return to his country and so approached two of his employees about the same. The two employees then approached a private lab near Electronics City and allegedly bribed the lab technicians to prepare a fake negative RT-PCR report by November 26. The very next day he submitted the fake negative RT-PCR report to the hotel and airport authorities and flew to South Africa. His genome sequencing reports came on December 2 making him one of the first two persons in the country to test positive for the Omicron variant.

All primary 24 contacts and 240 secondary contacts have been traced and samples were taken by Urban Primary Health Centre officials. All have tested negative.

The arrests come following an FIR that had been filed against the South African citizen as well as the management of hotel Shangri La, where he had been staying while in Bengaluru. The FIR was registered after a complaint by a medical officer of the BBMP asking that legal action be taken for flouting norms and exposing people to the virus.