The discovery of a hospital's staff engaged in issuing fake Covid-19 test reports to unsuspecting patients is deeply worrying at a time when accurate reports are vital to containing the pandemic. We commend the members of the mobile court that sealed off the Regent Hospital on charges of issuing such fake reports while taking money from patients. Rab has in fact, identified syndicates that are in operation, swindling people and issuing these fraudulent reports. The implications of such malpractice are devastating. Individuals who may be infected with the virus may be under the false impression that they are free from it because the fake certificate has given a Covid-19 negative result. This means the person may become extremely sick without treatment and also unknowingly infect others. For expatriate Bangladeshis working abroad it has far reaching consequences as they are being refused by the destination countries after testing positive even though they had reports that stated they had tested negative.
The fraud has also badly affected Bangladesh's image abroad. Japan, Italy and South Korea have already restricted the entry of Bangladeshis after some of them, with documents certifying that they didn't have the coronavirus, tested positive after they arrived in those countries. Recently 151 Bangladeshis were sent back from Italy because earlier several Bangladeshi expatriates arriving in that country with certificates saying they were Covid-19 negative tested positive.
While we commend the government in catching criminals and sealing off the hospital involved in the scam, it cannot be emphasised enough how crucial it is for other syndicates involved in this malpractice to be caught and brought to book immediately. It is disturbing to note that despite knowing that Regent Hospital's licence had expired years ago the health service division of the health ministry still signed a deal in early March with it to treat Covid-19 patients. The government must carry out extensive monitoring of all Covid-19 hospitals and pathological laboratories doing these tests.
There will always be fraudsters waiting to take advantage of any crisis to make a quick buck. But the enormity of the crime of issuing fake Covid-19 certificates warrants continuous vigilance on the part of the government and its law enforcing agencies. It also highlights the need to be more diligent about scrutinising hospitals and making sure they have valid licenses to function. If hospitals do not have valid licenses they should not be allowed to operate at all, let alone conduct tests. We sincerely hope that these syndicates are brought to book and our image abroad is restored so that Bangladeshis are not barred from countries they travel to for work or other purposes. The government should also create widespread awareness about the dangerous consequences of wilfully buying such certificates.