Student who tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from UK on trial for breaching SHN

Esther Tan Ling Ying is said to have also lied about her travel history when she saw a doctor.
Esther Tan Ling Ying is said to have also lied about her travel history when she saw a doctor.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A student who returned to Singapore from Britain with flu-like symptoms allegedly breached her stay-home notice (SHN) to dine at a foodcourt at Terminal 1 of Changi Airport.

Esther Tan Ling Ying, who later tested positive for Covid-19, is said to have also lied about her travel history when she saw a doctor in Clementi that same day.

The 24-year-old had returned on March 23 last year and was issued an SHN, requiring her to remain in her place of residence for a 14-day period.

But before heading home, she purportedly ate at the foodcourt with her parents.

She also went to the Clementi Family and Aesthetic Clinic in Clementi Avenue 3, near her home, to get some medicine.

On Tuesday (March 9), Deputy Public Prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani called Tan's conduct abhorrent, and told the court she had flu-like symptoms before her departure from Britain. She tested positive for Covid-19 shortly after returning here.

In his opening statement on the first day of the trial, the DPP said that everyone has a part to play in combating the pandemic, and the majority have played by the rules.

"But a small number of people do not think the rules apply to them... the accused Esther Tan is one such person," he said. "She had absolutely no excuse for her breach of the SHN."

An officer from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), who briefed returning travellers at Changi Airport on March 23 last year, was the first witness to be called to the stand.

Defence counsel Tan Cheng Kiong put it to the officer that his briefing on the SHN was unclear on what constituted the 14 days, noting that the day of return was stated to be day zero.

Mr Tan said the 14 days would begin on day one and end on day 14.

But DPP Sanjiv said the period from day zero to day one would be the first day, and the period from day one to day two would be the second day, all the way to day 14, making it a total of 14 days.

The witness agreed with the DPP, and also said the briefings made it clear that those served with an SHN were to return to their homes directly without detours.

The case was adjourned on Tuesday morning (March 9) and is expected to continue with other witnesses called to the stand in the afternoon.

Tan's parents and family friends were in court.

If found guilty, she may be fined up to $10,000, or jailed for up to six months, or both.