The couple charged in February last year for allegedly providing false information to the Health Ministry’s officials during COVID-19 contact tracing stood trial on Monday (17 August).
CNA reported today that Hu Jun, 38, from Wuhan, is charged with one count of obstructing a health officer by deliberately withholding information on his whereabouts and activities.
His wife Shi Sha, 36, is facing four charges under the Infectious Diseases Act for withholding information, giving false information and failing to respond fully and truthfully to a health officer.
Mr Hu arrived in Singapore on 22 January last year and was diagnosed with COVID-19 on 31 January the same year.
Mr Hu was discharged from the hospital the following month after he had recovered.
Ms Shi was issued a quarantine order earlier, as she was identified as a close contact of Mr Hu. This was part of the contact tracing process by MOH to identify those who may have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 while symptomatic.
Defence lawyer Dhanwant Singh submitted that one of the charges against his clients was made prior to the inclusion of COVID-19 under the Infectious Diseases Act.
He also argued that the charges purportedly contain only a gist of what his client had said in Mandarin, which may have resulted in “a high possibility that they were misunderstood because … there is a vast difference” between the Mandarin spoken in China and the Mandarin spoken in Singapore.
Mr Singh also submitted that the charges made against his client were different from the complaint lodged before the magistrate.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh, however, argued that the particular offences the couple are charged with pertain to the act of conveying or deliberately withholding information from health officers from Jan 30 onwards.
He posited that Mr Singh had misunderstood the provision of the Infectious Diseases Act, as the couple are “not entitled” to “withhold information as to the dates that were before the scheduling of this disease”.
Mr Koh also noted — with regards to the charges — that changes have been made since July and that the defence had ample time to review the amended charges.
The judge dismissed the defence’s objections on the grounds that they bore no merit.
Should they be found guilty of their charges, the couple may face penalties of up to six months’ jail, a maximum S$10,000 fine or both, for each charge.