SINGAPORE: After returning home from Australia during the pandemic outbreak, a woman knew she had to serve stay-home notice but left her house to buy bubble tea.
She also went to visit a pregnant friend to help her with wedding preparations, and tested positive for COVID-19 about a week after this.
Nurul Afiqah Binte Mohammed, 22, was jailed for seven weeks on Friday (Jan 22). She pleaded guilty to three charges under the Infectious Diseases Act, with another four charges taken into consideration.
The court heard that Nurul was a nurse working at Singapore General Hospital. She returned to Singapore from her holiday in Australia on Mar 21 last year and was served with a 14-day stay-home notice.
When she returned home, she told her mother that she was supposed to stay home for 14 days to quarantine herself. However, she left her home at least seven times while she was not supposed to.
On Mar 23, 2020, Nurul left her home for about one-and-a-half hours to buy bubble tea. She took a bus to Causeway Point in Woodlands and bought the beverage from a Koi outlet.
She then took a GrabHitch ride to Nanyang Polytechnic to submit an application for further studies, before taking another private-hire car home.
On Apr 2 last year, she left her house for more than five hours, going to her friend's home in Punggol to help her with her wedding preparations.
There were other people in the house, including her friend's parents, and none of them knew that Nurul was meant to be serving stay-home notice.
Nurul did not wear a mask, and returned the next day to the house to help her friend again. If her friend had known that Nurul was on stay-home notice, she would have asked her to stay home, the court heard.
This was in part because the friend was pregnant and did not want her child to be potentially exposed to COVID-19.
On Apr 12, 2020, Nurul visited Khoo Teck Puat Hospital as she had a sore throat and was feverish. She tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to hospital the next day. She was transferred to a community care facility and discharged after she tested negative on May 17, 2020.
There is no evidence that she spread COVID-19 to anyone, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lim. He asked for at least seven weeks' jail. Nurul did not say anything in mitigation.
She has since left the employment of SGH, the hospital's chief human resource officer Tan Yang Noi said in a statement on Friday.
"SGH takes a serious view on this matter. All our staff are expected to uphold the highest level of professionalism and to fully abide by the rule of law and prevailing guidelines.
"Disciplinary action will be taken against any staff who breaches the law."
For each charge of exposing others to the risk of infection under the Infectious Diseases Act, she could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.