Chinese couple charged with faking whereabouts after husband contracted virus

Entrance of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. Image: Google
Entrance of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. Image: Google

Singapore took additional harsh measures today to show it is not fooling around when it comes to containing the spread of COVID-19.

A married Chinese couple today became the first people charged under the Infectious Diseases Act for allegedly falsifying their whereabouts and therefore disrupting the Health Ministry’s tracing efforts. In another case, a 45-year-old man lost his permanent residency after he left the island while under self-quarantine orders, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said in a statement.

The married couple faces six months in jail and S$10,000 fines if found guilty. The husband, Hu Jun, 38, is from outbreak ground zero in Wuhan and became case No. 16 after he tested positive on Jan. 31. His wife, 36-year-old Shi Sha, resides in Singapore was quarantined from Feb. 1 due to their contact. Hu has recovered and was discharged from hospital Feb. 19. They are accused of lying about where they visited prior to the diagnosis.

COVID-19: Here’s every coronavirus infection in Singapore on a map

“Both Hu and Shi had given false information to MOH officials about their movements and whereabouts from 22 January to 29 January when they were contacted for the purposes of contact tracing. Shi had also provided false information while under quarantine. However, [the Health Ministry] was able to establish their true movements through detailed investigations,” the ministry said in today’s statement, without elaborating on how what evidence they obtained.

“In view of the potentially serious repercussions of the false information given by the defendants, and the risk they could have posed to public health, MOH has served Hu and Shi charges on 25 February,” the statement added. 

The couple’s case will be heard Friday in court. 

The unidentified man who lost his permanent resident status in Singapore has also been barred from re-entering the city-state, according to the immigration authority.

He departed Singapore on Sunday, three days after his home quarantine had begun on Feb. 20, when he was served notice at Changi Airport. 

The man insisted on leaving the country even after being told that he had breached the home quarantine requirements, the immigration authority said. The man had also failed to respond to calls and to be at his declared place of residence while on home quarantine.  

After the man fled, the immigration authority rejected his re-entry permit application that allows him to retain his permanent resident status here. 

As part of measures to contain virus infections, Singapore has been serving “Stay-Home” notices to Singapore residents, people on long-term visas and foreign workers who have been to mainland China in the past 14 days, requiring them to self-quarantine at home until their notice period ends.

The notice replaces the “Leave of Absence” semi-quarantine, which allowed individuals to leave their places of residence for short times. One migrant worker has had papers revoked after surveillance found he’d visited a casino, and another harshly reprimanded for leaving home too long for a meal.

Related:
Foreign worker told to stay home amid outbreak punished for visiting casino
COVID-19: Here’s every coronavirus infection in Singapore on a map
How lab sleuths traced source of two Singapore COVID-19 outbreaks

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