Chinese couple to serve jail sentence for Covid-19 offences after dropping appeal

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SINGAPORE – Two Chinese nationals convicted of lying to Ministry of Health (MOH) officials and obstructing contact tracing for Covid-19 will serve their jail sentence after deciding to discontinue their appeals on Tuesday (Jan 11).

On Nov 24 last year, Hu Jun, 40, was sentenced to five months’ jail for deliberately withholding information from a health officer. His wife Shi Sha, 38, was sentenced to six months’ jail on four charges – for withholding information, giving false information and failing to respond fully and truthfully to a health officer.

Hu was in Singapore as a short-term visitor while Shi was a long-term visit pass holder when they broke the law, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) in a statement on Tuesday.

Their immigration passes were subsequently cancelled and they were issued with special passes to facilitate their court proceedings.

They were the first people to be charged under the Infectious Diseases Act in relation to Covid-19.

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

In an earlier statement, MOH said Hu arrived in Singapore on Jan 22, 2020, and was confirmed to be infected with Covid-19 nine days later. He recovered and was discharged from hospital on Feb 19.

Shi was identified as his 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.

Between Jan 22 and 28, Hu had travelled to Long Beach @ Stevens restaurant in Stevens Road and Ngee Ann City shopping centre in Orchard Road, among other places.

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

But Land Transport Authority records showed Shi had booked rides from private-hire car service Grab to several locations – including Ngee Ann City – in late January, said Ms Lim.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh said that by lying to contact tracers, they had hindered a critical exercise by MOH to stem the spread of Covid-19.

After their sentencing, the couple indicated their intention to appeal in the High Court.

ICA will make arrangements to deport the couple and bar them from re-entering Singapore after they have served their sentences.

ICA said it takes a serious view of foreigners who commit offences under the Infectious Diseases Act.

“Their actions may compromise the precautionary measures put in place to manage the transmission risk of Covid-19. ICA will not hesitate to take action against such foreigners,” it said.

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