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Bangladesh government suspends Dr Sabrina after arrest over a COVID-19 test report scam

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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.

Bangladesh government suspends Dr Sabrina after arrest over a COVID-19 test report scam

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  journalists. 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 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.

Bangladesh government suspends Dr Sabrina after arrest over a COVID-19 test report scam

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

Bangladesh government suspends Dr Sabrina after arrest over a COVID-19 test report scam

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.

No jamaat at Eidgah or open grounds this Eid-ul-Azha due to Covid-19: Govt

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There will be no Eid jamaat at Eidgah or open grounds this Eid-ul-Azha due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, people have been asked to offer Eid prayers at nearby mosques, following health guidelines and special instructions.

The government issued with the decision following a virtual inter-ministerial meeting organized by the religious affairs ministry on Sunday

Presided over by Nurul Islam, secretary, religious affairs ministry, officials of Cabinet Division, Prime Minister’s Office, different ministries including Home, Health Ministry, LGRD, Information, Public Administration, Fisheries and Livestock, and Dhaka South City Corporation, among others, attended the meeting.

In the meeting, it was decided that this year, the main congregation of Eid-ul-Azha will be held at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque following health guidelines instead of the National Eidgah considering the coronavirus infection situation.

In the meeting, mosque authorities have been asked not to keep carpets in the mosques during prayers, entire mosques should be disinfected before prayers, and everyone will have to bring their own prayer mats (jainamaz).

There should be soap or hand sanitiser at the entrance of every mosque and people will have to maintain distance and follow health guidelines during offering prayers, meeting sources said.

Besides, people will have to do their wudu — the ritual washing of hands and feet before prayers — at home, and wear masks before going to mosques.

Elderly people, children, ailing persons and their caregivers should not come to mosques to offer Eid prayers, the meeting also decided.

People have also been requested not to hug or shake hands after Eid prayer.

The religious affairs ministry will soon issue a notice mentioning do’s and don’ts for people and the mosque authorities to follow during Eid prayers, Public Relations Officer of Religious Affairs Ministry Mohammad Anwar Hossain, said.

No Bangladeshi can leave country without valid Covid-19 negative certificate: Govt

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No Bangladeshi citizen will be allowed to leave the country without Covid-19 negative certificate from the coronavirus testing centres authorised by the government.

The decision was taken at an inter-ministerial virtual meeting chaired by Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, according to a press release of the foreign ministry.

The meeting also recommended uploading all Covid-19 negative certificates on the website of respective authorised coronavirus testing authorities so that immigration officers can check their authenticity before allowing anyone to leave the country.

The meeting further decided to install coronavirus testing facilities dedicated for Bangladeshi expatriate workers who intend to go abroad for job purpose under the Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry.

Expatriate Welfare Minister Imran Ahmad, Health Minister Zahid Maleque and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam attended the meeting, the release added.

Sahara Khatun to be flown to Bangkok for better treatment

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Sahara Khatun to be flown to Bangkok for better treatment

Awami League presidium member and former home minister Advocate Sahara Khatun will be flown to Bangkok on Monday for better treatment.

Sahara Khatun is now undergoing treatment at the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital in the capital and all preparations have been taken to shift her to Thailand through an air ambulance, Md Mujibur Rahman, her assistant, told BSS on Friday.

Mujibur said the veteran politician would be admitted to Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok.

On June 2, Sahara Khatun, an Awami League lawmaker, was admitted to the capital’s United Hospital with various health complications. She is now undergoing treatment at the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital.

United Hospital’s Communication and Business Development Chief Dr Sagufa Anwar said Sahara Khatun’s family is going to shift her to a Bangkok hospital for better treatment and all arrangements have been taken to do so.

A member of the ruling party’s policymaking Presidium, Sahara represents the Dhaka-18 constituency for a third term. She served as the home minister and later the post and telecommunication minister in the 2008 Sheikh Hasina-led cabinet.

ED: Coordination is key

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ED: Coordination is key

Our actions up until this point have shown that we are not taking this pandemic seriously

This does not look good.

As of writing this editorial, Bangladesh has over 150,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with almost 2,000 confirmed deaths.

And, despite these numbers, despite the fact that our testing rate is lower than most countries and that our infection rates are much lower than what is the reality on the ground, despite the impending economic crisis that we might be facing and some are facing as we speak, our actions up until this point have shown that we are not taking this pandemic seriously.

As such, it should come as no surprise that we still have a long way to go before we hit the peak so that we can begin to flatten the curve.

In fact, according to a new projection by the Directorate General of Health Services and Institute of Health Economics, Bangladesh is set to hit a peak in the second half of July, with almost 300,000 cases — double that of the number of cases we have right now. Other estimates say the peak could come much later.

This presents us with a grim future, one where it is too late for us to do anything and the virus has spread beyond our control. In such a future, our health sector is overwhelmed, and thousands of people are dying every day.

There is no doubt that this situation has come about as a result of mismanagement, incompetence, and negligence, leading to inaction and confusion — a prime example of this is the commendable zonal lockdown plan, which is yet to be implemented.

We need better coordination amongst different departments within the government so that government officials have clear directives with regards to what must be done, so that we the citizens are not drowning in a sea of misinformation and doubt.

We are all in this together. Let us act like it.

19 pilgrims killed as train rams van in Pakistan

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19 pilgrims killed as train rams van in Pakistan

The pilgrims from the north of the country were returning from a visit to Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak, near the megacity of Lahore

At least 19 Sikh pilgrims — all from the same family — were killed on Friday when a train smashed into a van in the east of Pakistan, officials said.

The driver was travelling across an unmanned level crossing when the vehicle was hit by an incoming train near the small city of Farooqabad.

“The crossing was unmanned and the driver of the van took a hasty decision by driving onto the tracks,” Pakistan Railways spokeswoman Quratul Ain told AFP, adding that the passengers were all Sikh pilgrims.

Local police spokesman Wajid Abbas confirmed the dead were all from the same family and that eight other people were in a critical condition at hospital. No train passengers were injured.

The pilgrims from the north of the country were returning from a visit to Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak, near the megacity of Lahore.

Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that he was “deeply saddened” by the deaths.

Images broadcast on local television showed the mangled van on the train tracks.

Pakistan’s railway minister called for an immediate investigation into the crash.

Accidents often happen at unmanned railway crossings in Pakistan which frequently lack barriers and sometimes signals.

The railway network has seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment.

Last October at least 74 people were killed and dozens injured after cooking gas cylinders exploded on a train packed with pilgrims in Punjab province.

 

Bangladesh Covid-19 cases cross 1.5 lakh mark

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Bangladesh Covid-19 cases cross 1.5 lakh mark

Bangladesh’s Covid-19 count crossed the grim milestone of 1.5 lakh mark yesterday with 4,019 fresh cases, taking the country’s total caseload to 1,53,277.

While it took 103 days to hit the one lakh mark, the next 50 thousand cases were exceeded in only 14 days.

The number of fatalities from Covid-19 infection has reached 1,926 now with 38 more patients succumbing to the virus in the 24-hour period of Wednesday 8 am to Thursday 8 am.

Some 4,334 patients recovered during the time, which was the highest single-day recovery.

On the other hand, a report of Bangladesh Peace Observatory or BPO, a research project under the Dhaka University’s Centre for Genocide Studies, claimed that 1,500 people have died with Covid-19 like symptoms between March 8 and June 27.

The BPO prepared its findings based on the reports published in 25 news outlets, including national and regional newspapers, online portals and television channels, says the report.

According to data from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, persons in the 21-30 and 31-40 age groups are highly prone to the coronavirus infection, constituting 55% of the total confirmed cases.

When it comes to deaths from the disease, those above the age of 60 are the most vulnerable. Persons of this age-group make 39% of the dead, although they make up just 7% of Covid-19 patients.

Furthermore, the males are at the top of the chart in terms of both infection and death rates – 71% and 77% respectively.

Meanwhile, during a virtual briefing yesterday, Professor Dr Nasima Sultana, additional director general of the health directorate, said 8,02,697 Covid-19 tests, including 18,362 in the 24 hours have been conducted till now since the pandemic made inroads into the country in March.

Mentioning the growth of testing facilities in the country, Dr Nasima disclosed data on month-wise tests that they performed since March this year.

Of the total number of tests conducted till date – 3,065 were done in March, 62,826 in April, 2,43,039 in May, 4,57,350 in June and 36,237 were done within the first two days of July 2020.

“The patients who are cured of the disease staying in hospitals, homes and isolation centres and those getting well without taking medicine are included in the list of recovered cases,” said Dr Nasima Sultana.

However, the number of recoveries was rather low until June 15. On that day, the single-day recovery saw a jump as the number was estimated under the new guidelines that included the patients who recovered at home.

Dr Nasima said around 43.35% of Covid-19 patients – both symptomatic and asymptomatic – have recovered in Bangladesh so far, while 1.27% have died.

The latest day’s infection rate was 21.89% of the total tests, though the overall rate in the country till date was 19.10%.

Currently, 63,608 people are quarantined across the country – including 2,894 newly-quarantined individuals. A total of 3,05,581 people have completed their quarantine periods.

Nasima Sultana said, “The authorities placed 960 new individuals suspected of having Covid-19 into isolation, bringing the total to 15,757. Meanwhile,12,775 persons left isolation.”

The virus has killed 5,20,173 people globally and infected 1,08,60,971 so far till 9:30pm Thursday, according to information on worldometers.info.

 

Latifur Rahman no more

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Latifur Rahman

Latifur Rahman (Shamim), 75, passed away in his sleep at 11 am this morning in his paternal home in Cumilla.

His Namaz-e-Janaza will be held this evening at the Azad Masjid after Esha prayers. He was suffering from lung related illness for a long time.

He was founder chairman and CEO of Transcom Group, a well-known and highly respected business house of Bangladesh.

He was founding director of Mediaworld, the owning company of The Daily Star, and Chairman of Mediastar, the owning company of Prothom Alo, both leading English and Bangla newspapers of the country. He was a driving spirit behind establishment of The Daily Star.

Transcom Group deals with beverages, electrical and electronics products, pharmaceuticals, fast food, snacks and breakfast cereals, print media, FM radio and tea plantations.

Transcom Group’s companies include Transcom Beverages, Transcom Electronics, Eskayef Pharmaceuticals, Transcom Foods, Transcom Distribution Company, Transcom Consumer Product and Mediastar.

Rahman was a member of the executive board of ICC-Paris, vice president of ICC-Bangladesh and member of Brac’s governing body. He was a member of the Bangladesh Better Business Forum and Advisory Committee on World Trade Organization.

Rahman was also president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka for seven terms and of Bangladesh Employers’ Federation.

He was also chairman of the Bangladesh government’s Trade Body Reforms Committee and a member of Bangladesh Bank’s executive board.

Rahman was an honouree of “Oslo Business for Peace Award 2012” and was awarded Business Executive of the Year 2001 by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh.

He had also been honoured with the “SAARC Outstanding Leader” award and Lifetime Achievement Award which was presented by the UK Bangladesh Catalysts of Commerce and Industry.

Rahman started his career in 1966 in his family-owned jute mills in Chandpur district. He worked as an executive in the mills until 1971. He established Transcom Group in 1973 after W Rahman Jute Mills, the major earning source for the Rahman family, was nationalised in 1972. In the 1980s, Rahman became the sole importer and distributor of Nestlé products in Bangladesh. In the 1990s, he bought Smith, Kline & French, a US-based pharmaceutical, later known as Eskayef.

He was married to Shahnaz Rahman. Together they have three daughters Simeen Hossain, Shahzreh Huq, (late) Shazneen Rahman and a son, Arshad Waliur Rahman.

He was an iconic figure in the business world of Bangladesh and respected by business leaders at the international level. He was renowned for his honesty and ethical business practices. He was loved and honoured by all those who came in contact with him.

Modi decides to withdraw account from Chinese microblogging site Weibo

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withdraw account from Chinese

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to withdraw his account from the Chinese microblogging website Weibo, a couple of days after India announced a ban on 59 Chinese apps amidst a standoff with China in Ladakh.

Modi joined Weibo in 2015 and had 115 posts on his account.

It was decided to manually delete them and after much effort 113 posts were removed. All information from Modi’s account, including his profile photo, were also pulled down.

Modi’s Weibo account, set up before his maiden visit to China as Prime Minister, had 2,44,000 followers, many of them Chinese.

The Indian government on Monday banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Shein, Likee and UC Browser for what an official statement said to “safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users and to ensure the safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”

Troops of India and China had clashed in Galwan Valley on June 15 that left 20 Indians dead.

20 Indian soldiers killed; 43 Chinese casualties

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Indian army soldiers walk past their parked trucks at a makeshift transit camp before heading to Ladakh, near Baltal, southeast of Srinagar [Reuters]

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At least 20 Indian soldiers have been killed in a violent face-off with Chinese forces on the disputed border, the Indian army has said, in a major escalation of a weeks-long standoff in the western Himalayas.

In a statement, the Indian army said on Tuesday that 17 “critically injured” Indian troops succumbed to their wounds, in addition to an officer and two soldiers who had died earlier.

The troops died “in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain … taking the total that were killed in action to 20,” the statement said.

Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged in the areas where the clashes took place, the statement said, adding that India is firmly committed to “protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation”.

The incident marks the deadliest clash between the nuclear-armed neighbours in decades.

Tensions flare on a fairly regular basis between the two regional powers over their 3,500-kilometre (2,200-mile) frontier, which has never been properly demarcated.

Thousands of troops from the two nuclear-armed neighbours, backed by armoured trucks and artillery, have been involved in the latest face-off since May in the Ladakh region, bordering Tibet.

Indian officials say Chinese soldiers crossed the boundary at three different points, erecting tents and guard posts and ignoring verbal warnings to leave. That triggered shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights.

Army officers and diplomats have held a series of meetings to try to end the impasse, with no breakthrough.

‘Extremely serious’
Meanwhile, China accused India of crossing a “disputed border” between the two countries, according to a report by the AFP news agency.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Indian troops crossed the border line twice on Monday, “provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides”.

“We again solemnly request that India follows the relevant attitude and restrains its front line troops,” he said. “Do not cross the border, do not provoke trouble, do not take any unilateral action that would complicate the border situation.”

Beijing has lodged “strong protests and solemn representations” to New Delhi, Lijian said.

China’s foreign ministry confirmed there had been a “violent physical confrontation” on Monday in the border area. It made no mention of casualties but India’s foreign ministry said there had been casualties on both sides.

The deaths were the first since a border skirmish in 1975 between the nuclear-armed neighbours – also the world’s two most populous countries – which have been unable to settle the dispute along their lengthy frontier.

“This is extremely, extremely serious, this is going to vitiate whatever dialogue was going on,” former Indian army commander D.S. Hooda said.

Military experts say one reason for the face-off is that India has been building roads and airfields to improve connectivity and narrow the gap with China’s far superior infrastructure.

At Galwan, India completed a road leading to an airfield last October. China has asked India to stop all construction.

India says it is operating on its side of the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border.