Coronavirus: China couple to be charged under Infectious Diseases Act with giving false info to MOH officials

Once a Covid-19 case is confirmed, the Ministry of Health initiates contact tracing to identify individuals who may have been exposed to the patient while he was symptomatic. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A China couple will be charged under the Infectious Diseases Act on Friday (Feb 28), said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

They are the first people to be charged under the Infectious Diseases Act here with regards to the coronavirus outbreak.

The MOH said they had given false information to its officials and obstructed the conduct of contact tracing.

The man is Case 16, a 38-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan, who the ministry identified as Hu Jun. His wife, Shi Sha, is a 36-year-old Chinese national who lives in Singapore.

Hu arrived in Singapore on Jan 22 and was confirmed to be infected on Jan 31. He has since recovered and was discharged from hospital on Feb 19.

His wife was identified as a close contact and was issued a quarantine order on Feb 1, after the MOH initiated contact tracing to identify those who may have been exposed to the infected person while he was symptomatic.

The MOH said that the couple had given false information to its officials about their movements and whereabouts from Jan 22 to Jan 29 when they were contacted for the purposes of contact tracing. Shi had also provided false information while under quarantine.

However, the ministry said it was able to find out the couple's true movements through detailed investigations.

It said the couple will be charged on Friday in view of the potentially serious repercussions of the false information given by the pair and the risk they could have posed to public health.

Anyone convicted of an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed up to six months, or both, for the first offence.

The ministry reminded the public that under the Act, it is an offence for anyone to withhold or provide inaccurate information to its officials during contact tracing.

It added that it views such actions seriously and would not hesitate to take appropriate action against perpetrators.

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