SINGAPORE - A couple from China were charged in court on Friday (Feb 28) with giving false information to Ministry of Health (MOH) officials amidst the coronavirus outbreak, lies which obstructed the process of contact tracing.
Hu Jun, 38, from Wuhan - the epicentre of the coronavirus disease, also called Covid-19 - and his wife, Shi Sha, 36, who lives in Singapore, are the first two people to be charged under the Infectious Diseases Act in relation to the current outbreak.
In a statement on Wednesday, MOH had said that Hu arrived in Singapore on Jan 22 and was confirmed to be infected on Jan 31. He recovered and was discharged from hospital on Feb 19.
His wife was identified as a close contact and 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 couple had allegedly given false information to MOH officials about their movements and whereabouts from Jan 22 to 29, when they were contacted during the quarantine period.
Shi faces four charges under the Act. According to court documents, Shi had been ordered to be isolated in a unit at the Loft@Nathan condominium in Nathan Road near River Valley Road.
The woman allegedly told health officer Georgina Lim several lies on Jan 30. Among other things, she claimed that she had not stayed in another unit at the same condominium.
Shi allegedly lied again two days later, claiming she had not stayed in a hotel.
Ms Lim was allegedly lied to twice on Feb 3, when Shi claimed that she had flagged down a blue taxi outside Loft@Nathan on Jan 29 so that she and Hu could go to the Singapore General Hospital.
Hu, who faces one charge under the Act, is accused of giving false information to health officer Poh Cuiqin on Feb 1.
He allegedly lied to Ms Poh, claiming that apart from having dinner at Ion Orchard shopping mall on Jan 22 and walking around Loft@Nathan two days later, he had stayed indoors at a unit there from Jan 22 to 29.
In its earlier statement, MOH had said that it was able to determine the couple’s true movements only through detailed investigations.
The couple, who is represented by lawyer Chung Ting Fai, will be back in court on March 20.
Anyone convicted of an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $10,000 for the first offence.