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Woman jailed for breaching COVID-19 quarantine to shop, collect 4D winnings and get vaccinated

Woman jailed for breaching COVID-19 quarantine to shop, collect 4D winnings and get vaccinated

Ang Siew Wah at the State Courts on June 7, 2022. (Photo: TODAY/Nuria Ling)

SINGAPORE: Despite knowing that she was quarantined as she was a close contact of a COVID-19 case, a woman repeatedly breached quarantine by going out to window shop, collect lottery winnings and get vaccinated.

Ang Siew Wah, 60, repeatedly shouted at Certis Cisco call agents and demanded to know who would support her and that she needed to eat.

Ang was jailed for nine weeks on Wednesday (Sep 7). She pleaded guilty to one count under the Infectious Diseases Act of exposing others to the risk of infection, with another four charges taken into consideration.

The court heard that a Certis Cisco call agent got in touch with Ang on behalf of the Ministry of Health (MOH) on the morning of Jul 23 last year to speak to her about her quarantine order.

In the call, Ang confirmed that she had received a notification from MOH the day before that she was under quarantine from Jul 22 to Jul 29, 2021, as she was a contact of a COVID-19 patient.

Ang asked the agent about an upcoming COVID-19 vaccination appointment. Ang was told she had to reschedule it as she was not allowed to go out.

Ang retorted: "Then don't need to buy medicine lah, don't need to eat lah, that means cannot go out cannot eat lah."

The agent told Ang that she had to stay in a hotel for her quarantine, but Ang shouted at her: "You are kidding me, I don't like to stay hotel, I want to stay at home."

ANG TUSSLED WITH AGENTS OVER THE PHONE

Two agents called Ang multiple times because they either could not hear her properly or because Ang claimed she was working and had "no time" for them.

When told she could not work as she was under quarantine, Ang said: "I need money to eat. Who wants to support me?"

She repeated such remarks over multiple calls, and the agent eventually told Ang that if she wanted to quarantine herself at home instead of in a hotel, then her husband would also not be allowed to leave the house. 

Ang shouted: "Hello! You are nonsense ah. If my husband cannot go out, how do we eat? Call MOH, call government to talk to me ok?"

A different agent called Ang that same morning and repeated the information to her, to which Ang replied in a similar fashion.

She then claimed that she was working, and when the agent told her she had to inform her employer that she was under quarantine, Ang repeated her argument about needing to "survive".

FLOUTED QUARANTINE ORDER THAT SAME DAY

After the phone calls, Ang went out for about seven-and-a-half hours on the same day.

From about 10.20am to about 5.45pm on Jul 23, 2021, she went to Kovan MRT station and Heartland Mall to eat, window shop and collect her 4D winnings. Court documents did not indicate how much these were.

She returned by bus in the evening and was not working as she had claimed.

She continued to head out over the next few days despite knowing she was under quarantine. On Jul 24, 2021, she took a bus to Ang Mo Kio on separate occasions to buy lunch and dinner.

The following day, she again travelled by bus, this time to Teck Ghee Community Centre for her COVID-19 vaccination, even though she had been told not to do so. She also made bus trips to buy food on Jul 28 and Jul 29, 2021, and did not return to her workplace throughout her quarantine period.

A RECALCITRANT OFFENDER: PROSECUTOR

The prosecution asked for nine to 10 weeks' jail for Ang, calling her a "recalcitrant offender who clearly did not intend to comply with the quarantine order".

She shouted at the call agents and lied to them that she was at work, said the prosecutor.

"In fact, she was out for frivolous purposes, to window shop and to collect 4D winnings," she added.

The prosecutor said it was "purely fortuitous" that Ang tested negative for COVID-19 on Jul 28, 2021.

Ang has a previous conviction in 2005 for theft, for which she served 10 weeks in jail.

In mitigation, she told the judge via a Mandarin interpreter that she did not know the law.

"I'm pleading for leniency. Please give me a lighter sentence," she said.

In response, the prosecutor said that ignorance of the law is not a defence, adding that Ang had repeatedly acknowledged during the phone calls that she knew she was under quarantine.

The judge said Ang had no intention of complying with the order from the outset. After being informed that she had to stay at home, she promptly left home and continued to do so on four of the remaining six days of her quarantine period, said the judge.

"Such wilful non-compliance with measures to contain the spread of the virus warrant a sufficiently stiff sentence that will deter others from ... such conduct that affects public health and safety," she said.

Source: CNA/ll(ac)
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