The first Hong Kong doctor to be charged over allegedly issuing fake Covid-19 vaccine exemption certificates has been granted bail.
Tai Kong-shing, 76, appeared in front of Acting Principle Magistrate Peony Wong at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts on Friday.
Tai, who was arrested on Tuesday, stands accused of three counts of “access to computer with dishonest intent,” the Witness reported.
The doctor was granted bail after Wong set a HK$100,000 cash bail. Tai was also barred from leaving the city and ordered to hand over all his travel documents.
Following Tai’s arrest, the police said that his clinic had charged HK$4,000 to HK$5,000 for an exemption certificate. Three of Tai’s assistants were also arrested on Tuesday.
Tai is scheduled to appear in court again on December 16.
The authorities, including top government officials, vowed to crack down on the abuse of vaccine exemption certificates.
According to the police, three doctors and eight people had been arrested over the issuing or obtaining of allegedly fake exemptions as of Thursday.
Speaking to the press after Tai’s arrest on Tuesday, 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.
Chief Secretary Eric Chan, in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he had requested the Security Bureau to go after people using fake exemptions, and that people uses those certificates “harmed the overall societal benefit” of Hong Kong.
The city’s tough Covid policy restricts access to shopping malls, supermarkets, places of worship and other premises for unvaccinated citizens through the use of the LeaveHomeSafe contact tracing app.
Residents with certain pre-existing health conditions can be exempted from having to take the jabs, however, the vaccines are safe for the vast majority of people.
But several practitioners have told HKFP that some patients fear adverse effects from the vaccines and want to be exempted.