Couple convicted in S'pore over hindering Covid-19 contact tracing after husband was infected

Hu Jun (left) and Shi Sha at the State Courts on Jan 25, 2021. They were the first two people to be charged under the Infectious Diseases Act in relation to the current pandemic.
Hu Jun (left) and Shi Sha at the State Courts on Jan 25, 2021. They were the first two people to be charged under the Infectious Diseases Act in relation to the current pandemic.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A married couple from China were convicted on Tuesday (Oct 26) of offences including hindering health officers from carrying out their duties after the husband tested positive for Covid-19 in 2020.

Following a joint trial, District Judge Ng Peng Hong found Shi Sha, now 38, guilty of four charges under the Infectious Diseases Act.

In January 2020, she deliberately withheld information when a health officer asked her about the whereabouts and activities of her husband, Hu Jun, now 40.

The following month, she committed offences including lying to a health officer.

Hu was convicted of one charge under the Act after he deliberately withheld information when a health officer asked him about his whereabouts and activities.

The couple were the first two people to be charged under the Act in relation to the current pandemic.

Shi was living in Singapore when her husband flew in from Wuhan, which was the epicentre of Covid-19 at the time.

In an earlier statement, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said Hu arrived in Singapore on Jan 22, 2020, and was confirmed to be infected with the virus nine days later. He was discharged from hospital on Feb 19 after recovering.

Shi was identified as a close contact and issued a quarantine order on Feb 1, after MOH initiated contact tracing to identify those who may have been exposed to Hu.

During the trial in 2020, epidemiologist Yang Yong testified that Hu had said he stayed in his friend's apartment near the couple's home in Nathan Road, near River Valley Road, between Jan 23 and Jan 29 after developing symptoms such as a fever.

Senior public health officer Georgina Lim testified that Shi had told her she was in isolation at home with her husband.

But records provided by the Land Transport Authority show that Shi had booked rides from private-hire car service Grab to several locations - including Ngee Ann City in Orchard Road - during that period, said Ms Lim.

The records also show that she booked a Grab ride from Studio M Hotel in Robertson Quay to the Singapore General Hospital on Jan 29.

Ms Lim testified that this was contrary to what Shi had told her - that she had flagged down "a blue taxi" outside their home to take her husband to the hospital that day.

Taking the stand in July this year, Shi told the court she had difficulty communicating with the contact tracer, and that their conversation in Mandarin was like "a chicken talking to a duck".

Hu and Shi, who were offered bail of $10,000 each on Tuesday, are expected to be sentenced on Nov 10.

For each charge under the Act, a first-time offender can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $10,000.

A repeat offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $20,000.