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Prosecution concludes case in trial of China couple accused of obstructing COVID-19 contact tracing

Prosecution concludes case in trial of China couple accused of obstructing COVID-19 contact tracing

Hu Jun and his wife Shi Sha seen on Feb 28, 2020. (Photos: Hanidah Amin, Marcus Mark Ramos)

SINGAPORE: The prosecution on Friday (Aug 21) concluded its case against a couple from China who are accused of withholding information from health officers and obstructing contact tracing, after five days of hearings with 13 witnesses on the stand.

The judge adjourned the case for a pre-trial conference on Sep 11, and said he would decide then whether to call the defence to make its case.

Wuhan native Hu Jun, 38, is contesting a charge under the Infectious Diseases Act of deliberately withholding information about his whereabouts and activities.

He tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan 31 after arriving on Jan 22 to spend Chinese New Year with his wife, 36-year-old Shi Sha, a China national who lives in Singapore.

Shi faces four charges under the same Act for withholding information, giving false information and failing to respond fully and truthfully to a health officer.

When contact tracers tried speaking to Hu, who was then warded in Singapore General Hospital, they thought it would be better to also get information from his wife, who knew the country better and was not ill.

However, differing accounts soon emerged, and when health officials tried clarifying matters, Shi was reluctant to provide more details, expressing her concern that the media would leak information, the court heard over the week.

READ: Wife of COVID-19 patient gave information on whereabouts contrary to Grab records, contact tracer testifies


On Friday, the second-last witness for the prosecution, MOH officer Yeo Seng Guan, said Shi was "reluctant" to give a statement when he went to her house at Loft @ Nathan in early February, accompanied by a colleague and an interpreter.

"She said she had just received calls from the press in China about her husband. She blamed us for leaking the information to the Chinese press," said Mr Yeo.

"Did you leak information to the Chinese press?" asked Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh.

"No," Mr Yeo answered.

"Did the Ministry of Health leak information to the Chinese press?" asked Mr Koh.

"I do not know," said Mr Yeo.

Before Shi gave her statement, she took a call from her eldest daughter who was in a quarantine centre, and there was "some shouting over the phone", he said.

Defence lawyer Dhanwant Singh said the family members had been quarantined separately and Shi was "rather stressed", which was why she shouted at her daughter on the phone.

Mr Yeo's colleague, and the last witness for the prosecution, MOH senior manager Elaine Lee Kim Yen, also mentioned Shi's concern that her personal information would be leaked to the media.

"Did you disclose their personal information to the media?" asked the prosecutor.

"No," answered Ms Lee.


The testimonies showed that Shi gave more information to Ms Lee and Mr Yeo in her statements in early February than she gave to another MOH officer who first spoke to her.

However, it was still not the complete picture of her steps with her husband as revealed by Grab transport records that health officers obtained from the Land Transport Authority.

READ: Chinese couple accused of omitting trips from contact tracers paid for S$7 journey with S$100 note, says Grab driver

For example, Shi told Mr Yeo that she went for lunch with her friends at Long Beach Seafood in Stevens Road on Jan 22, but did not tell him about heading to Marina One Residences later that day.

According to another witness, Shi and her husband had tagged along to view the property.

Shi also told Mr Yeo that she went to the Chinese embassy on the morning of Jan 24 with her husband and daughter, and left to buy health supplements at Ngee Ann City, before heading home.

However, she did not tell Mr Yeo that they also went to InterContinental Hotel that evening, Mr Yeo testified.

Over the week, the defence lawyer said that his clients' explanations in the interviews with MOH officers had been lost in translation due to poor interpretation.

If convicted of the offences, both husband and wife face penalties of up to six months' jail, a maximum S$10,000 fine or both, for each charge.

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Source: CNA/ll(cy)


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