4 held for helping India’s first Omicron patient escape with fake RT-PCR report

Two of the accused are employees of a pharmaceutical company where the Omicron patient, a South African national, is a director and the other two worked for the lab from where the fake RT-PCR test result was issued  

Representative photo: iStock

Karnataka Police have arrested two senior executives of a South African pharma company and as many junior staffers of a diagnostic lab on charges of helping India’s first Omicron patient escape the country by providing him a fake negative RT-PCR certificate.

Jurisdictional High Grounds Police on Sunday arrested Yogeshwar Mohan Persad Dokie alias Ranesh Dokie, vice president, quality control, Adcock Ingram Ltd; Ravindranath, manager of the company; Manoj Kumar KC, junior executive custodian and finance at Syngene International Ltd Laboratory and Prashanth M, an executive in charge of the registration at the same laboratory.

Also read: Govt is taking measures to set up more genomic sequencing labs: Karnataka CM

The South African national was put on a 14-day quarantine in a star hotel in Bengaluru’s Vasanthnagar after he tested positive for COVID-19 on his arrival on November 20. He, however, furnished a negative report four days later and left India on November 27.

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The patient was found to be positive for Omicron when the result of the genome sequencing of his samples came on December 2, making him the first Omicron patient in India. It was later found that the negative test result he had produced to leave India was fake.

The South African patient, one of the directors of the pharmaceutical company, has also been booked in the case. The management of the hotel where he was quarantined has also been named in the FIR.

According to police, Dokie and Ravindranath promised the laboratory employees well-paying jobs at the pharmaceutical company in exchange of a negative RT-PCR report.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has said that it would serve a notice to the laboratory, demanding an explanation on the case, before taking a decision on blacklisting it.

Also read: Why does Omicron cause reinfection? Quick facts from WHO update

“We will soon get the details of the case from the police. We will also have to give the laboratory an opportunity to explain themselves and hence we will serve it a notice seeking an explanation. Based on the response, we will take suitable action, which may include blacklisting it,” said Dr Trilok Chandra, special commissioner (health), BBMP.

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