More than 100 passengers carrying fake polymerase chain reaction test reports were today barred from boarding international flights at Tribhuvan International Airport.

The police unit at the TIA took altogether 122 people into custody for submitting fake PCR test reports.

According to Pratap Babu Tiwari, general manager of TIA, the said passengers were scheduled to board three flights. According to him, 32 passengers of Salam Air, 36 of Jazeera Air, and 54 of Air Arabia flight were not allowed to board planes today.

"During the inspection of documents at the TIA police health desk between 9:00am and 10:00am, the aforementioned passengers were found to be carrying fake reports," he said.

According to the TIA office, all passengers carrying fake PCR reports had acquired them from Sooriya Health Care Pvt Ltd.

A team from the Metropolitan Crime Branch had raided the lab yesterday and arrested eight people, including its Managing Director Lekhananda Prasad Singh, after it was discovered that they were issuing negative PCR reports without even collecting swabs. According to the Metropolitan Crime Division, the lab was providing a fake negative PCR report for Rs 9,000 within an hour of receiving money. Police confiscated nine such fake reports during the raid. Police also seized dozens of blank certificates, computers, and laboratory equipment.

Subsequently, the police started inspecting PCR reports strictly and were on the lookout for anyone carrying reports issued by the lab. Of the total passengers who faced action today, 29 Nepalis, 19 Indians, and two Pakistanis were barred entry into the airport.

All the passengers who were taken into custody were later released with a stern warning.

TIA officials, meanwhile, are learning ways to reduce the crowd at the airport.

Tiwari said TIA authorities were preparing to reduce the number of domestic flights, as the COVID cases were on the rise. On an average, around 12,000 passengers take domestic flights from TIA to several destinations daily.

According to a high-ranking officer of the Department of Immigration, more than half of those carrying fake PCR negative reports were Indians.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 22, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.