Bangladesh suspends doctor with links to COVID-19 test scam

The health ministry has suspended Sabrina Sharmeen Husain, a cardiac surgeon of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, hours after her arrest over a COVID-19 test report scam involving JKG Health Care.

Known as Sabrina A Chaudhury, the doctor has denied media reports that she is the chairman of JKG, an opaque outfit that had trained volunteers and set up kiosks to collect samples from suspected patients for free. She claimed she only provided them with suggestions over the COVID-19 tests. 

On Jun 4, Sabrina filed a general diary against her husband and JKG CEO Ariful Chaudhury for torturing her, Sabrina told bdnews24.com. They were on the verge of getting a divorce, she claimed.

JKG Health Care, Sabrina Sharmeen Husain, cardiac surgeon, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, COVID-19, fake test report scam, Sabrina A Chaudhury

Health Services Secretary Abdul Mannan, however, said in a notice announcing her suspension on Sunday that she breached service rules by holding the post of chairman in a private organisation without permission while working as a government doctor.

Mannan said it is a punishable offence and noted her alleged involvement with the fake test reports. 

Ariful and four others are also behind bars for their alleged involvement in the COVID-19 testing scam.

JKG Health Care, Sabrina Sharmeen Husain, cardiac surgeon, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, COVID-19, fake test report scam, Sabrina A Chaudhury

The authorities found a large number of fabricated test reports in raids on JKG and homes of its officials who allegedly embezzled money from the patients by issuing the reports without getting the samples tested.

After the arrest of Ariful last month, the Directorate General of Health Services on Jun 24 stripped JKG of the permission for collecting samples for COVID-19 tests.

On Saturday, the DGHS responded to a claim that Director General Abul Kalam Azad knew about fake COVID-19 test reports issued by JKG.

Explaining its role in the JKG scam, the directorate said it had never thought the organisation would act fraudulently.

Ariful’s proposal to collect samples for free by training volunteers looked good to the directorate amid a workforce shortage for COVID-19 tests, the DGHS said.