BENGALURU: The mandatory COVID testing for travelers from high-risk countries which started at Kempegowda International Airport from midnight of Wednesday witnessed chaos, delays and miscommunication. It left many flyers, particularly those who opted for the Rapid RT-PCR tests quite frustrated as the results of samples took more than double the promised time by its designated test centre, Auriga Research Centre.
Even Executive Chairperson of Biocon Limited, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw slammed the gross mismanagement in implementing COVID restrictions at Bengaluru airport tweeting, “This is a huge infection risk for travellers.”
Confusion began right at the start as rates specified by the airport operator, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) were Rs 3,000 for the RAT tests with the results to be made available within an hour. It said the standard test was Rs 500 with the results to be handed over within five to six hours. However, an automated response on the number of the agency shared by BIAL repeatedly to flyers on its social media handle (7411781509) spelled out the Rapid rates as Rs 3,200 with a 30 min to 2 hr time taken and for the regular test Rs 800 with a turnaround time of 16 hrs to 24 hrs.
General Manager of Auriga Research Centre, Gautham told TNIE that passengers from three flights of the high-risk countries of Germany, France, and the UK landed via Lufthansa, Air France, and Air India at the same time in the early hours of Wednesday. “The sheer volume of passengers coming for testing at one go left us overwhelmed. We had to take everyone’s sample and process it. All their results had to be completed first and it delayed that of passengers in subsequent flights too. The Rapid test took us 2 to 2.5 hrs in some cases while we were able to deliver the standard test within the prescribed five hours with no major delays,” he said.
He also added that the rates on phone were not updated with the reduced rates specified by the State government recently which were Rs 3,000 and Rs 500 and revised timings.
Meanwhile, frustrated passengers took to social media to vent their anger. Parikshith, a Karnataka native, put out these couple of tweets: “@BLRAirport, we might not have COVID but we will definitely contract it in the airport because of your inability to manage the crowd. Shame!”
He added, "Absolute chaos in the airport to check data and get the covid test done. No proper information, no co-ordination and redundant data check while we still haven’t got out of airport because even rapid test takes more than two hours to get the result. SORT YOURSELVES!”
@Manipicsone tweeted: “It is freaking me out. The PCR testing procedure and endless chaos created by @BLRAirport in painful. Have to pay 3k for the test and wandering around when the results will be in.” The non-availability of website page for registering for the test or inability to speak to the call centre executive were other complaints.
BIAL in an advisory said, “The service provider which operates the laboratory at Bengaluru airport experienced some delays today in processing test results. In the coming days, the laboratory will be scaling up operations to cater to the increasing volume.” Adequate seating arrangements have been made for passengers to wait for test results, it added.