Hong Kong police have apprehended a doctor and three of his assistants on suspicion of conspiring to produce false Covid-19 vaccination medical exemption certificates. A total of 193 certificates were issued on the day of the arrests, a preliminary investigation has found.

A 76-year-old male doctor was among four people arrested on Tuesday night, after police received tip-offs that he had allegedly issued documents exempting people from getting Covid-19 jabs without conducting a consultation or reviewing the patient’s history.

Coronavirus vaccination in Hong Kong. Photo: GovHK.

Officers from the Kowloon West regional crime squad said on Tuesday that the clinic charged HK$4,000 to HK$5,000 for an exemption certificate.

The Force seized documents, computers and around HK$760,000 in cash from the clinic, which the police believed was gained from the alleged crime. Police later found around HK$1.1 million in cash at the doctor’s home, which was suspected to be relevant to the case.

Superintendent Alan Chung of the Kowloon West regional crime unit said police “attached great importance” to cases involving professionals who allegedly abused their power and engaged in unlawful activities.

“[T]heir selfish acts, for their own gains, have endangered the public health of Hong Kong’s society and the overall anti-epidemic work,” he said.

Superintendent Alan Chung of the Kowloon West crime squad. Photo: Hong Kong Police screenshot.

In Hong Kong, anyone convicted of producing false documents could face up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

The preliminary police investigation showed that the clinic on Nathan Road issued 193 exemption certificates on Tuesday, while the total number of the alleged false documents produced was still being counted.

Chung said those who visited the clinic to obtain a vaccination exemption certificate had been recommended by friends, adding that the Force would review the clinic’s records to carry out further prosecution work.

Chief Executive John Lee warned earlier this month that using a Covid-19 vaccination exemption certificate that has been falsely obtained is a serious offence. His remarks came after private practitioner Annie Choi, 64, was apprehended on September 5 after being suspected of handing out vaccine exemptions to over 6,000 people without consulting their medical conditions.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.