Bangladesh shuts down hospital, hunts for owner over ‘fake’ COVID-19 test reports

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2020-07-07 18:41:48 BdST

The authorities have shut down the headquarters and a branch of Regent Hospital in Dhaka’s Uttara on charges of issuing fake COVID-19 test reports.

The Rapid Action Battalion or RAB has launched a manhunt for the hospital’s chairman, Mohammad Shahed, in a case started over alleged irregularities, including the refusal to renew its licence despite reminders.

The Directorate General of Health Services in a notice on Tuesday also ordered shutdown of the private hospital’s Mirpur branch.

A RAB mobile court launched raids on the hospital branches on Monday after finding dozens of fake coronavirus test reports. The hospital swindled patients out of Tk 14.7 million by issuing the fake reports, the RAB said.

Most of the patients left the four-storey hospital on road No. 17 at Sector-11 after Monday’s raid and the rest left on Tuesday.

After sealing off the hospital, RAB Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam went to the Regent Hospital headquarters on road No. 14 at Sector-12 and seized equipment for sample collection.

Alam also sentenced Moniruzzaman, 23, an employee of the hospital, to three months in jail.

The RAB initiated a case against Shahed and 16 others at Uttara West Police Station.

The law enforcers showed arrested eight people who were detained in the operations on Monday.

The elite force deployed four teams in operations to arrest Shahed, said RAB intelligence chief Sarwar Bin Quasem.

The law enforcement also alerted the air and land ports to possibilities that Shahed may attempt to flee Bangladesh, Quasem said.

The hospital began treating COVID-19 patients in March after signing a deal with the government, but it had no permission to run RT-PCR tests for coronavirus.

Citing media reports, the directorate said the hospital was “wrongfully” charging patients a hefty amount of money.

The public hospitals are providing coronavirus treatment for free, but it is unclear how much cost the government is sharing with the patients of the private hospitals.

Mohammad Shahed, chairman, Regent Hospital

Mohammad Shahed, chairman, Regent Hospital

Shahed had earlier told they were receiving equipment and drugs from the government and charging the COVID-19 patients for other costs than beds.

“We are spending a lot, at least Tk 10,000 on every patient. We are also bearing the cost of intensive care. And what we have got in return is only assurances. We haven’t received funds,” he had said.

Several media, citing patients of the hospital, reported that it has been charging hundreds of thousands of takas for COVID-19 treatment despite having shoddy facilities.