Coronavirus: 3 Chinese nationals who broke rules to contain outbreak face action

In the first case, a 45-year-old Singapore permanent resident, who arrived at Changi Airport on Feb 20 with a travel history to mainland China, breached stay-home notice requirements. In the second case, a China couple have been accused of giving fal
In the first case, a 45-year-old Singapore permanent resident, who arrived at Changi Airport on Feb 20 with a travel history to mainland China, breached stay-home notice requirements. In the second case, a China couple have been accused of giving false information to the Health Ministry.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

One loses his PR status; two others to be charged under Infectious Diseases Act

Action has been taken against three Chinese nationals here, as the authorities seek to crack down on behaviour that might jeopardise the fight against coronavirus infections.

The authorities said all three breached the protocol put in place to contain the spread of the virus.

The cases come days after the Ministry of Manpower said it has taken action against 14 work pass holders and 15 employers for breaching leave of absence requirements.

The first case involves a 45-year-old Singapore permanent resident (PR) who breached stay-home notice requirements while he was here from Feb 20 to 23.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said he has lost his PR status and been barred from re-entering Singapore.

ICA said the man was served with the notice on Feb 20 when he arrived at Changi Airport as he had travel history to mainland China in the prior 14 days. Individuals under stay-home notice are required to remain in their place of residence at all times for a 14-day period.

The man was briefed on the requirements of the notice, but did not respond to phone calls and was not at his declared place of residence when ICA officers checked.

On Feb 23, he was spotted attempting to leave Singapore and was warned that he had breached the requirements of his notice and could face penalties. But he still insisted on leaving.

ICA has rejected his application for renewal of his re-entry permit, which allows a person to retain his or her PR status while outside of Singapore. This means he has lost his PR status.

Meanwhile, a China couple have been accused of giving false information to Ministry of Health (MOH) officials and obstructing contact tracing.

They are to be charged under the Infectious Diseases Act tomorrow, making them the first to be charged under the Act here with regard to the coronavirus outbreak.

The man is Hu Jun, a 38-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan, referred to as Case 16. His wife, Shi Sha, is a 36-year-old Chinese national who lives here.

Hu arrived in Singapore on Jan 22 and was confirmed to be infected on Jan 31. He was discharged from hospital on Feb 19.

His wife was identified as a close contact and was 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 MOH said the couple had given false information about their movements and whereabouts from Jan 22 to Jan 29 when they were contacted for contact tracing. Shi had also provided false information while under quarantine.

Detailed investigations uncovered the couple's true movements.

The ministry said the couple will be charged tomorrow in view of the potentially serious repercussions of the false information they gave and the risk they could have posed to public health.

Anyone convicted of an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed up to six months, or both, for the first offence.

More clarity on counting sick leave

Guidelines on how employers should count five days of coronavirus sick leave will be issued by today, said Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad in Parliament yesterday.

He was responding to Mr Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC), who raised workers' concerns that the five days would eat into their 14-day sick leave entitlement. Doctors have been advised by the Health Ministry to issue five-day medical certificates (MCs) for people who display respiratory symptoms such as fever or cough during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Zaqy said: "If an employee were to have insufficient outpatient sick leave in the future, employers are encouraged to be flexible and compassionate and grant additional sick leave to the employee."

He also addressed concerns raised in the House on the treatment of migrant workers amid stricter restrictions on foreign workers during the outbreak.

These measures include obtaining the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) approval before work pass holders with recent China travel history can enter Singapore and mandatory stay-home notices for such workers. MPs also questioned the harshness and fairness of how the new control measures were carried out.

As of last Saturday, MOM had suspended the work pass privileges of 15 employers - three of them had workers who were not found culpable. These workers were given the chance to find other jobs in Singapore, said Mr Zaqy.

He added that it is important for the Government to signal to the public that it is not taking a matter of public health lightly.

Tee Zhuo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2020, with the headline '3 Chinese nationals who broke rules face action'. Print Edition | Subscribe