(Editor's note: this article is first published by Annie Lab, a fact-checking project by Journalism and Media Studies Centre of the University of Hong Kong and Asian Network of News and Information Educators (ANNIE), and co-written by Jerome Lizambard and Katherine Cheng)
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 post’s status 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 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. 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 in the Legco website.
The agenda of the council’s Finance Committee also shows a separate support scheme of $103.8 million (US$ 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 suffering from chronic diseases who could not go back to the city for their medical consultation due to travel restrictions that were set in place because of COVID-19 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.
Disclaimer: This is a student work. Although faculty members at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong have done everything possible to verify its accuracy, we cannot guarantee there are no mistakes. If you notice an error or have any questions, please email us at [email protected].