BENGALURU: The mandatory Covid-19 testing for travellers from high-risk countries, which started at Kempegowda International Airport from Wednesday midnight, witnessed chaos, delays and miscommunication. It left many flyers -- particularly who those opted for Rapid RT-PCR tests -- frustrated as the test results took more than double the promised time by its designated test centre, Auriga Research Centre.
Executive chairperson of Biocon Limited Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw slammed the gross mismanagement in implementing Covid restrictions at Bengaluru airport, saying, “This is a huge infection risk for travellers.”
Confusion began with the rates specified by airport operator Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) as Rs 3,000 for RAT, with results to be made available within an hour; the standard test was Rs 500, with results to be handed over in 5-6 hours.
However, an automated response on the agency’s number (7411781509), shared by BIAL with flyers on its social media handle, spelt out Rapid rates as Rs 3,200, with 30 minutes to 2 hours, and Rs 800 for the regular test, with a turnaround time of 16-24 hours.
General Manager of Auriga Research Centre, Gautham told TNIE that passengers from three flights of high-risk countries of Germany, France and 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 left us overwhelmed. We had to take everyone’s samples and process them. All their results had to be completed first, and it delayed passengers on subsequent flights. 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,” he said.
He added that rates were not updated online with reduced rates specified by the State government recently -- Rs 3,000 and Rs 500 -- and revised timings. 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. Non-availability of the website page to register for the test, or inability to speak to the call centre executive were other complaints.
Travellers vent it out on Twitter
Frustrated passengers, meanwhile, took to social media. Parikshith, a Karnataka native, put out these 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!”
...... “Absolute chaos in the airport to check data and get 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.”