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Coronavirus: Larnaca doctor remanded over fake vaccination certificate (Update 2)

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A 53-year-old doctor was remanded for seven days by Larnaca district court on Saturday in connection with the issuing of a fake Covid vaccination certificate to a man who is now seriously ill in hospital with the virus.

The doctor was arrested at his home in Aradippou, Larnaca on Friday night as part of an investigation into forgery of an official document, negligence and harming public health.

It emerged later Saturday that police have received two more complaints against two other doctors – a paediatrician in Paphos and a GP in Limassol – also suspected of issuing fake vaccination certificates.

The 41-year-old patient, the court heard on Saturday, appears to have regretted his decision to fake his vaccination just before his condition deteriorated and he was intubated, telling staff at the hospital he would rush to get vaccinated as soon as he was discharged.

The court heard on Saturday that two more patients at the Famagusta coronavirus reference hospital who are in serious condition have also been found to have been declared as vaccinated by the same doctor who reportedly charged €600. One of them is also intubated in critical condition.

According to the police, it was the father of the patient who reported to police on Friday that his 41-year-old son had been issued a fake vaccination certificate.

He said that on Thursday he was informed that his son had confessed to medical and nursing staff at the hospital that he had obtained the fake document and that it was his son’s general physician who had issued it.

After checks, it was found that the 41-year-old was registered in the Gesy system as being vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab by the suspect.

The nurse who heard from the 41-year-old he had not been vaccinated, told police she had asked him before the intubation if he had received the jab.

He said: “I wish I had been,” the nurse said.

Police also secured testimony from another nurse, who said the patient had told him when he was admitted to the ICU on Monday, that he had not been vaccinated but that if he got better, he would rush to get “not one but five vaccines” after being discharged.

A pulmonologist at the reference hospital also told police that the patient stated he had not been vaccinated, despite his medical records showing that he had been.

Police also contacted Gesy’s Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) which confirmed that the doctor had been authorised to administer AstraZeneca vaccines on April 26 after responding to the call to GPs to offer vaccinations to their patients. The official said that since then the doctor had ordered 170 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and that according to records, he has vaccinated 102 patients, including the 41-year-old. The system also showed the doctor had the rest of the doses in his possession.

The 41-year-old’s wife told police that she had gone with her husband to the doctor’s office for the first dose and was asked to wait outside. When her husband left the doctor’s office, the woman said both men told her he had received the first dose and showed her the certificate.

Police found in the suspect’s home various documents and five boxes with glass bottles containing a liquid. Documents and more glass bottles with a liquids inside were also found in his office.

The suspect denies involvement in the offences he is being investigated for. Police told court the bottles will be sent for testing. It is also expected that police will seek permission to access the doctor’s bank accounts as there is information that he was being paid to issue the fake vaccination certificates. The Cyprus Mail has learned he charged €600.

Police told court that they are to speak with some 100 people who have been registered as vaccinated by the suspect, the reference hospital’s staff, the families of the doctor and the three patients being treated for Covid at the hospital.

In terms of the two other doctors suspected of issuing fake certificate, one case concerns a paediatrician in Paphos who allegedly issued a fake certificate for her child. The other concerns suspicions by a GP that a colleague of his in Limassol might be issuing such certificates. The doctor filed a complaint against his colleague after a couple, patients of his, deregistered themselves from his list after he refused to provide them with fake vaccination certificates and registered with the other doctor.

The HIO said it has also launched a probe into the issue. The organisation also called on the public to report cases if they suspect Gesy GPs of issuing fake certificates but also of doctors who are discouraging people from getting vaccinated if there is no medical reason.

People are urged to call 17000 or send an email to  [email protected].

 

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