The Hong Kong government today amended the current regulations to authorize the health chief to invalidate the vaccine exemption certificates, assumed to be “fake”, as the issuing doctors handed them out without assessing the patients.
With the Executive Council's approval of the decision, the newly issued Prevention and Control of Disease (Vaccine
Pass) Regulation (Amendment) was gazetted today afternoon and will be in force from tomorrow(October 26).
According to the amendment, Secretary for Health will be empowered to declare an exemption certificate invalid when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that no clinical assessment has been conducted by a registered medical practitioner before issuing the exemption. Besides, the Secretary may also nullify all exemption certificates issued by a registered doctor in consideration of public interest.
"It is the most appropriate method to protect public health and prevent people from taking advantage of the loopholes of legislation for seeking their own profits," said Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a member of the Executive Council.
This announcement came after Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said in a press conference on Tuesday morning that the government will soon “make a decision” on how to deal with the exemption certificates in accordance with the law.
A total of seven doctors were arrested across the city in the past month for allegedly issuing vaccine
exemption certificates to patients without actually assessing their condition with a maximum price of HK$5,000.
After this, the government announced to nullify the over 20,000 documents while an experienced judicial review applicant Kwok Cheuk-kin filed to the city’s High Court to challenge the government’s decision.
Last Friday, the High Court ruled Kwok’s triumphed in this legal bid and judged Lo Chung-mau, the Secretary for Health, has no legal powers to invalidate vaccine
exemptions sold by the arrested doctors, after which Lee said last Saturday the involved vaccine
waivers would be thoroughly studied by the Department of Justice.