Big Business in Bangladesh: Selling Fake Coronavirus Certificates

The Four Percent

Bangladesh’s coronavirus situation is especially murky. The country, home to more than 160 million people, has reported around 200,000 cases. But with the virus sweeping through South Asia, and with testing relatively low in Bangladesh, health experts believe the country has a much higher infection rate than the official numbers indicate.

Italy’s health minister, Roberto Speranza, has ordered the suspension of all flights coming in from Bangladesh after at least 37 Bangladeshi passengers arrived in Rome and tested positive for Covid-19, according to Agence France-Presse. Last week, Italy sent back 168 Bangladeshis who had arrived at airports in Rome and Milan, Italy’s health ministry confirmed.

Even before the testing scam was exposed, Bangladeshi law enforcement officials said that Mr. Shahed had been investigated in more than 30 other criminal cases connected to corruption, embezzlement and running fraudulent companies. He has served two years in prison, the authorities said.

“He is a known criminal,” said Faizul Islam, a member of Bangladesh’s elite police unit, the Rapid Action Battalion. And, Mr. Islam added, “we are acting against others.”

Bangladesh’s foreign ministry released a statement on Thursday saying that “around 1,600 Bangladeshis who went to Italy recently did not carry fake Covid-19 negative certificates.” But the statement added, “some Bangladeshis who traveled to Italy in the recent days did not follow the mandatory quarantine rule, and probably a few of them might have spread the virus in the community.”

Fiorenza Aini, a spokeswoman in the press office of Italy’s justice ministry, said that she was not aware of any current joint investigation between Italy and Bangladesh.

Giuseppe Mazzara, a spokesman from the Lazio region, which includes Rome, said that more than 6,000 coronavirus swab tests had been carried out on people who traveled to Italy from Bangladesh in the month of June, as well as people they came into contact with. So far, 191 had tested positive, he said.

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