A Hong Kong nurse has been jailed for six months after issuing false Covid-19 vaccination records to six people despite not inoculating them.
The Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Courts on Friday meted out prison term to 34-year-old Carmen Ho, who pleaded guilty in July to two counts of conspiracy to defraud, local media reported. Magistrate Minnie Wat said Ho’s behaviour was “disappointing” and breached her integrity as a medical professional.
The defendant, who worked as a part-time inoculation nurse at a Community Vaccination Centre, was said to have forged vaccination proof for six people between January and late February.
The case against Ho stemmed from a corruption complaint received by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which revealed that supervisors at the vaccination centre recovered six syringes of unused vaccine from a sharps disposal box in Ho’s booth.
According to the case, Ho offered to forge vaccination records for her friend Liu Hoi-yan, who was concerned about the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines. The 42-year-old housewife also expressed worries about the restricted access to certain venues under the Vaccine Pass arrangement, which came into effect on February 24, when the government tightened social distancing measures in a bid to curb the fifth wave of outbreak in the city.
Liu’s parents Siu Hang-yee and Liu Kwok-hung, and their domestic worker Mary Ann Villeza Marcelo, visited the vaccination centre at Kowloon Bay Sports Centre on February 20 to obtain the fraudulent proof from Ho. The nurse also admitted to helping two other people, sisters Cheng Nga-yi and Cheng Sze-wai, to obtain a vaccination records without inoculating them.
In handing down the sentence, the magistrate said Ho was a professional and she should have analysed the individual cases of people who had doubts about the Covid-19 vaccines, local media wrote. Instead, she took part in a conspiracy to defraud the government, which was “disappointing,” and violated her integrity as a nurse.
While the defence argued that Ho’s work was affected by the case, magistrate Wat said the defendant had to bear responsibility for her actions. The court set nine months as the starting point of Ho’s penalty and gave the nurse a three-month deduction due to her guilty plea.
The court on Friday also sentenced Liu Hoi-yan to two months in jail, while the Cheng sisters were jailed for three months after they were convicted after trial. Liu’s parents and domestic worker were given a bind over order.
Hong Kong’s fifth wave of infections, which began in late December last year, pushed the daily caseload from single digits to close to 70,000 infections a day when the outbreak peaked in March.
The city has recorded almost 2.14 million Covid-19 infections and 10,773 related deaths since the pandemic began almost three years ago.