Swedish doctor who faked Covid-19 travel certificates sentenced to one year in prison

A doctor in Gothenburg has been sentenced to a year in prison for issuing faked travel certificates for people who had been tested for Covid-19.

Swedish doctor who faked Covid-19 travel certificates sentenced to one year in prison
PCR tests, like the one shown in this file photo, were carried out but not sent for lab analysis. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

In Sweden, the PCR tests required before travel to many countries cannot be done through the national healthcare service, so instead travellers must use private clinics.

At the clinic in Gothenburg, a doctor issued certificates saying patients had tested negative, but had actually never sent their samples for laboratory analysis, as the Göteborgs-Posten was first to reveal.

In June, the doctor responsible was charged with seven counts of fraud, seven counts of gross false certification and two counts of gross forgery.

A district court sentenced him to one year in prison, a more severe penalty than what the prosecutor requested, saying that a high penalty was justified since the man “in his capacity as a doctor, took advantage of the ongoing pandemic for his own gain”.

It is not the only incident of this kind in Sweden, though it is the first to make it to court.

In June, a Stockholm doctor was reported to Swedish Healthcare Inspectorate Ivo by his employer for writing out travel certificates even after people had tested positive for the virus.

And in a separate incident, uncovered first by Expressen and Aftonbladet, a healthcare company was accused of not sending PCR tests for travel certificates to a lab. Around 100,000 people were thought to have been affected by the resulting faked certificates, according to police, who acted on information from the Swedish Healthcare Inspectorate (Ivo).

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Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death.