Big Business in Bangladesh: Selling Fake Coronavirus Certificates

Big Business in Bangladesh: Selling Fake Coronavirus Certificates

Big Business in Bangladesh: Selling Fake Coronavirus Certificates

Big Business in Bangladesh: Selling Fake Coronavirus Certificates

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.

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.”

Taheer Hussain, a Bangladeshi migrant laborer who works in the kitchen of a restaurant in Milan, said that Italian newspapers have been continuously reporting on a surge of Covid-19 cases in the Bangladeshi community, making ordinary workers suspect.

“People are looking at us with suspicious eyes,” Mr. Hussain said on phone from Milan, “as if we all are infected by virus.”

Jeffrey Gettleman reported from New Delhi, and Sameer Yasir from Srinagar, Kashmir.


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