Singapore—After Esther Tan Ling Ying, 24, returned from the United Kingdom in March last year, she was required to serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN), like all other returnees.
But Tan, who had already suffered from flu-like symptoms before she left the UK, visited the staff canteen at the basement of Changi Airport Terminal 1 with her parents after she landed on March 23, 2020.
In addition, after leaving the food court she went to the Clementi Family and Aesthetic Clinic in Clementi Avenue 3 for some medicine before going home to serve her SHN.
At the clinic in Clementi, she lied about her travel history, CNA reports.
Tan, who had been studying in the UK, later tested positive for COVID-19.
She is now on trial for having breached her SHN.
The student has been charged under the Infectious Diseases Act of exposing other individuals to the risk of COVID-19 infection, which she is contesting.
According to Deputy Public Prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani, Tan was told to go home directly to serve her quarantine after she arrived at Changi Airport.
CNA quotes him as saying, “Singapore has made strides in combating the spread of COVID-19. The drop in local community numbers is the collective effort of everyone. We all have a part to play in keeping Singapore safe and have been able to do so only because the majority of us have been playing by the rules.
Yet there’s a small number who think the rules don’t apply to them … and as a result put everyone at risk. Esther is one such person.”
Furthermore, the DPP added that there was “no excuse” for Tan’s “abhorrent conduct of lying”.
Mr Muhammad Aizad Abu Bakar, the officer from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) who had briefed her regarding the SHN, was the first to testify at the trial.
He told the court that he told Tan to go straight home after the briefing.
When Mr Tan Cheng Kiong, Tan’s lawyer, cross-examined Mr Aizad, he asked whether the means of going home had been one of the points stressed in the briefing.
The ICA officer said that questions he could not answer would be referred to his superior, but that no one had asked whether they could take the bus home, and that he advised travellers to take taxis or private-hire vehicles.
The defence lawyer also asked whether it was clear to returnees when the SHN was supposed to begin and what the duration of the SHN should actually be, as others at that time had expressed confusion as to when Day 1 of the SHN actually begins.
“It’s only logical for anybody to understand that the SHN can only start after they have arrived home. So before they arrive home, if they pass any place, that technically is not part of the SHN.”
But Mr Aizad answered that passengers were told to go home directly.
Tan’s trial is currently ongoing. If she is found guilty of exposing others to the risk of infection of Covid-19, she could be fined as much as S$10,000, jailed for as long as six months, or both jailed and fined.
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