Health workers in Bangladesh charged with selling fake COVID-19 certificates

Garment workers after factories reopened in May in Dhaka. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 11 July 2020

Health workers in Bangladesh charged with selling fake COVID-19 certificates

  • The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said on Thursday that it would launch an investigation into irregularities at Regent Hospital

DHAKA: More than a dozen Bangladeshi health workers have been arrested on charges of selling thousands of fake COVID-19 negative certificates, officials confirmed on Friday, as the country reels under a surge in coronavirus cases.  
The scandal came to light after a Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) raid on Regent Hospital in Dhaka on Monday. The private hospital was one of the health facilities chosen by the government to treat COVID-19 patients.
“The hospital collected more than 10,000 samples and tested only 4,200 of them at different government health facilities. But they issued COVID-19 reports for all,” Lt. Col. Ashik Billah, spokesman of the elite anti-crime unit of the Bangladeshi police, told Arab News on Friday. 
He said that Regent Hospital authorities prepared fake coronavirus reports at a computer lab next to the hospital building.
“We found the hospital’s registration expired in 2014 and they were running it illegally. Moreover, they were charging at least $45 for a coronavirus test and also charged huge amounts of money for treatment although it was supposed to be free according to an agreement signed with the government in late March,” Billah said. 
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on Tuesday suspended all operations of the hospital. Nine people have been arrested but the hospital’s managing director and owner, Mohammad Shahed, remains at large. 
“When the country first detected COVID-19 cases in early March, it was an emergency and the government urged private hospitals to step  up and treat coronavirus patients. We didn’t get much response at the beginning, (but) Regent authorities approached us and we signed an agreement with them,” Dr. Nasima Sultana, additional director general of DGHS, told Arab News. 

FASTFACT

Officials at Regent Hospital in Dhaka reportedly charged $45 for a coronavirus report without testing.  

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said on Thursday that it would launch an investigation into irregularities at Regent Hospital. Health Ministry officials will also be screened in relation to the case, ACC secretary Dilwar Bakht told reporters. 
The country’s central bank has issued an order to freeze all bank accounts of Shahed’s business groups, while immigration authorities have barred him from leaving Bangladesh. 
In a similar case on June 24, police arrested five staff members — including the chief executive — of JKG, a private health care company that received government accreditation to collect COVID-19 samples from patients in Dhaka and Narayanganj.
It is believed that those producing fake coronavirus certificates catered especially to Bangladeshis who needed COVID-19 clearance to travel abroad.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh chairman, Mofidur Rahman, told Arab News on Friday that to prevent the issuance of fake certificates for travelers, special labs should be dedicated to testing them.
“A discussion is underway in this regard and it might be introduced soon,” he said. 
The fake coronavirus certificate scandal is unfolding at a time when Bangladesh has recorded a rapid rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.
At least 178,000 people were known to have contracted the disease as of Friday and 2,275 have succumbed to it, according to DGHS data.


Malaysia’s Anwar says has ‘strong’ support to form govt

Updated 28 min 32 sec ago

Malaysia’s Anwar says has ‘strong’ support to form govt

  • The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since an alliance that swept to power in 2018
  • Muhyiddin Yassin became premier at the head of a coalition backed by a scandal-plagued party which had been ousted at the polls two years earlier
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Wednesday he had the “strong” backing of lawmakers in parliament and was seeking an audience with the king to form a new government.
The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since an alliance that swept to power in 2018, which was headed by Mahathir Mohamad and included Anwar, collapsed in February amid bitter infighting.
Muhyiddin Yassin became premier at the head of a coalition backed by a scandal-plagued party which had been ousted at the polls two years earlier, but he had only a wafer-thin majority in parliament.
Speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, veteran politician Anwar — who has long sought to become prime minister — said he now had the backing of enough MPs to form the government and oust Muhyiddin.
“Conclusively we have a strong, formidable majority,” he said, but did not reveal the number of lawmakers backing him.
“The government under the leadership of Muhyiddin Yassin has fallen.”
A government must command the support of a majority of the 222 MPS in parliament.
The was no immediate reaction from Muhyiddin. He was due to give a televised address to the nation later Wednesday.
Anwar said he had been granted an audience with the king on Tuesday but the meeting was postponed as the monarch is receiving treatment at a heart center in Kuala Lumpur.
The 73-year-old said he would meet with the king, who formally appoints the country’s prime minister, once he recovers, and would reveal more details to the public afterwards.

Anwar said a number of MPs had “expressed their deep dissatisfaction with the current leadership.”
“They recognize that the country must have strong, stable and accountable leadership to manage the crisis and to do so with compassion and concern for the plight of all people who are struggling in this pandemic economy.”
His move came ahead of weekend elections for the legislature in the eastern state of Sabah, which will be a major test of the current government’s popularity.
Muhyiddin’s government has had the difficult task of leading Malaysia through the coronavirus pandemic, and the economy suffered its worst contraction in more than 20 years in the second quarter amid a strict lockdown.
Long-time opposition leader Anwar was a key figure in the alliance that won a shock victory at landmark elections in 2018, toppling a scandal-plagued coalition that had ruled Malaysia uninterrupted for over six decades.
Voters kicked out the old regime in large part due to anger at former premier Najib Razak’s involvement in a massive financial scandal which saw billions looted from state coffers.
Mahathir, now 95, became prime minister for a second time and Anwar was released from jail, where he had been serving a sentence after being convicted of dubious sodomy charges.
Mahathir had promised one-time nemesis Anwar he would hand over power to him once he stepped down, but tensions grew between rival factions amid suspicions that Mahathir would renege on the deal.
Mahathir then quit as premier, leading to the government’s collapse.
Muhyiddin outmaneuvered Mahathir and succeeded in forming a coalition dominated by the country’s Muslim majority that included Najib’s party, and was appointed premier by the king without an election.
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