Coronavirus trial: Grab driver refutes China couple's claims on husband's whereabouts

Shi Sha (left) and her husband Hu Jun. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The information provided by a couple from China to official contact tracers about their whereabouts was refuted by witnesses testifying for the prosecution on Wednesday (Aug 19).

One of them, a Grab driver, told the court in the ongoing trial that he was "very sure" he drove the couple, Hu Jun and his wife Shi Sha, from Loft @ Nathan condominium to hotel Mercure Singapore on Stevens on Jan 22, despite them not telling the contact tracers about the trip.

A friend of Shi, in her testimony, said that on the same day, she had lunch at The Long Beach Seafood Restaurant in Stevens Road with the couple and another family.

The two witnesses were testifying on the third day of the trial against the couple who have been charged with withholding information about Hu's whereabouts to the contact tracers between Jan 22 and 29 this year.

While the couple claimed that Hu, 38, was mostly in isolation for almost a week before he was admitted to hospital with Covid-19, they differed on where he was isolated during this period.

Both claimed that Hu had gone out only once for a stroll.

He was confirmed to be infected on Jan 31, and was discharged from hospital on Feb 19.

The Straits Times understands that Shi, 36, holds a long-term visit pass and lives in Singapore with her two daughters, one of whom is attending a school here. Her husband joined them in January from Wuhan to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Other witnesses who took the stand included a neighbour who let the family use her flat while she was away and a contact tracer who called the couple on Feb 2.

During Wednesday's hearing, Shi's friend Sun Qian said the lunch at Long Beach Seafood took place on Jan 22, the day Hu is said to have arrived from Wuhan, then the epicentre of the coronavirus.

The Grab driver, Mr Tan Teng Sun, said he was "very sure" he had driven the couple on Jan 22 as they paid the $7 fare with a $100 note, which was very rare as "most customers would go cashless" by registering their cashless mode of payment on the Grab app.

He also told the court that 11 days later, the Health Ministry issued him a quarantine order.

Shi's neighbour Chen Yuan Mei, in her testimony, said she told the Hu family they could stay in her flat between Jan 22 and 28 as she would be away in China.

She made the offer as Shi's in-laws would be visiting Singapore then and she thought the Hu's flat would be too small to house all of them.

Ms Chen said she gave Shi's daughter the key to her home on Jan 22, but she did not know which family members stayed in her flat.

When questioned by defence lawyer Dhanwant Singh, she said she was neither given a quarantine order nor did the Health Ministry sanitise her flat.

Contact tracer Teng Yoke Chou, a public servant who had been seconded to the Health Ministry to do contact tracing, testified that she had made phone calls to Shi, Hu and Hu's father on Feb 2 between 4.30pm and 6pm.

Madam Teng said Shi, during their conversation, had hesitated and was asked twice before she replied that she had stayed in a hotel. Shi could not recall its name.

Hu informed her, during the phone call, that he had gone for dinner at Jumbo on Jan 23.

He also told her that on Jan 25, he took a stroll with his wife in the neighbourhood of their Nathan Road condominium, and on Jan 28, he checked into a hotel with his wife.

Madam Teng told the court she could not remember the name of the hotel that he had given her.

The trial continues on Thursday (Aug 20).

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.