[Note: This story was first published on Oct. 5, 2020, but was accidentally deleted. It was uploaded again on Dec. 1]
On Sept. 25, a Facebook post by the media company Cupid Producer claimed that Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority (HA) has earmarked $3 billion (US$387 million) to subsidize the medical bills of Hong Kongers currently living in Guangdong province, China.
The caption says HA chief executive Tony Ko Pat-sing has sought approval from the Legislative Council for these additional funds.
The post also contains an image of Ko with accompanying text, however, which says $3 billion has been allocated for the medical consultation fees of Hong Kongers in Guangdong.
The post received 8,100 engagements and was shared more than 2,500 times in a few days. The majority of the nearly 700 comments criticized the body which manages public hospitals in the city.
The claim is false.
While the government has requested the Legislative Council to approve $3 billion in additional funding for the HA as part of anti-epidemic efforts, these funds will be dedicated to enhancing the statutory body’s service capacity in Hong Kong in preparation for a possible fourth wave of COVID-19 infection as well as the winter influenza season, according to the proposal on the Legco website.
The agenda of the council’s Finance Committee also shows a separate support scheme of $103.8 million (USD 13.39 million) for the Food and Health Bureau has been proposed to subsidize medical consultation by Hong Kongers residing in Guangdong meanwhile.
These Hong Kongers who suffer from chronic diseases could not go back to the city for their medical consultation due to travel restrictions that were set in place because of COVID-19. They can seek consultation at the University of Hong Kong — Shenzhen hospital under the scheme.
The Finance Committee has approved both budget items on Sept.28.