SINGAPORE - A district judge allowed a Chinese national couple accused of withholding information from Covid-19 contact tracers to leave Singapore on Friday (Oct 9) and return on Jan 20 next year.
But Shi Sha, 37, and her husband Hu Jun, 39, will still not be able to leave after Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh successfully asked for a stay of this order, pending a review in the High Court. It was not mentioned when this review will be held.
The couple each face a single charge of withholding information from a contract tracer on Hu's whereabouts and activities between Jan 22 and 29.
Shi also faces three counts relating to providing false information to other contact tracers. They have claimed trial over these charges.
The Straits Times understands that Shi had a long-term visit pass and lives in Singapore.
Hu flew in from Wuhan, China, on Jan 22 to celebrate Chinese New Year with her.
He was confirmed to be infected with Covid-19 on Jan 31, subsequently recovered and was discharged from hospital on Feb 19.
The Ministry of Health initiated contact tracing after Hu's diagnosis to identify individuals who may have been exposed to him while he was symptomatic.
Shi was identified as a close contact and issued a quarantine order on Feb 1.
The court had earlier heard during their trial that the couple gave differing accounts of their activities between Jan 22 and 29 to various contact tracers.
The trial was adjourned before the couple returned to court on Friday.
Defence lawyer Dhanwant Singh told District Judge Ng Peng Hong that the pair wanted to leave for China immediately and before the trial resumes next year.
The lawyer said Hu works as a financial adviser, adding: "He works in this line where he has been in charge of investments ranging to millions of dollars."
Mr Singh said that Hu's livelihood is now at stake.
As for Shi, the lawyer said the couple have two children who are both in China and that she has been separated from them for months.
DPP Koh objected to the application, stressing that the couple have no roots in Singapore.
He told Judge Ng that they are flight risks and that it is "highly likely they will not return".
On Friday, the judge increased the couple's original bail of $10,000 each and granted them permission to leave Singapore.
As part of their conditions, they must furnish the complete travel itineraries to the investigation officer (IO) before leaving and provide the full details of where they will be staying.
The pair must also remain contactable by the IO.
Their pre-trial conference will be held on Nov 6, while their trial is expected to resume on Jan 25 next year.
If convicted, Shi and Hu can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $10,000 for each offence.