(Singapore, Feb 28, 2020) A couple from China, who allegedly gave false information to officials from the Ministry of Health, have been charged for obstructing the process of contact tracing for the coronavirus outbreak.

Each of the couple, if convicted of an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act, is liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both, for the first offence, the MOH has announced.

Chinese national Hu Jun and his wife Shi Sha Source: The Straits Times

The defendants are Hu Jun, a 38 year-old male Chinese national from Wuhan, and his wife Shi Sha, a 36 year-old female Chinese national who resides in Singapore. Hu arrived in Singapore on 22 January 2020 and was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 on 31 January.

Shi had been identified as a close contact of Hu and was issued a Quarantine Order on 1 February. Hu has since fully recovered from the infection and had been discharged from hospital on 19 February.

Once a COVID-19 case is confirmed, MOH initiates contact tracing to identify individuals who may have been exposed to the case while he/she was symptomatic. Close contacts are monitored closely and may be quarantined, so that they can be identified and treated early if they develop the disease. This measure also prevents close contacts from mingling in the community if they become symptomatic, and helps to contain further transmission of COVID-19.

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 MOH was able to establish their true movements through detailed investigations.

The charged couple will be back in court on March 20.

MOH reminds the public that under the Infectious Diseases Act, it is an offence under the law for anyone to withhold or provide inaccurate information to MOH officials during contact tracing. MOH views such actions seriously and will not hesitate to take appropriate action against the perpetrators.