Doctor arrested for issuing over 6,000 false vaccine exemption certificates

A Hong Kong doctor was arrested on Monday for suspected selling thousands of fake vaccine exemption certificates to citizens.

Police launched a raid on the 64-year-old doctor’s private clinic at Castle Peak Road in Yuen Long yesterday afternoon after receiving complaints about it.

Annie Choi Suk-mui, the arrested doctor, was suspected of abusively issuing over 6,000 Covid-19 Vaccination Medical Exemption Certificates to people who were reluctant to receive Covid vaccines without consulting or reviewing their medical records since August this year.

Police officers seized the practitioner’s personal computer and other electronic records during the inspection.

Cho was found charging a HK$500 consultation fee per patient who asked for the exemption certificate, according to the Chief Inspector of Yuen Long Police Division Tai Yuk-lun.

The doctor was arrested on charges of making a false instrument.

Under the current disease prevention arrangements, eligible Hongkongers are required to receive either the BioNTech or Sinovac Covid vaccines.

Health authorities issued the scheme for citizens to be exempted from getting doses if they were assessed by a doctor as being medically unsuitable for vaccination in January this year.

According to the scheme, people can be issued a vaccine exemption certificate in accordance with clinical judgments and guidelines from the Department of Health, with a validity period from 90 to 180 days, and the period can be decided by the doctor with regard to clinical conditions.

“I have had many experiences in my own clinic of declining to issue the exemption certificate,” said Gabriel Choi Kin, Immediate Past President of the Hong Kong Medical Association.

“A physician should be responsible to patients and abide by the code of professional conduct,” he noted.

At the Executive Council on Tuesday morning, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu warned the medical practitioners that an allegation of making false documents could incur 14 years imprisonment.

“We hope citizens could follow the disease prevention measures to help the authorities with striking a balance between the risk of the epidemic and economic activities more effectively,” he said.