Student who returned from UK with COVID-19 on trial for breaching SHN

Amir Hussain
·Senior Reporter
·2-min read
Judge's gavel on a surgical mask. (Photo: Getty Images)
Judge's gavel on a surgical mask. (Photo: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A 23-year-old Singaporean student studying in the UK flew back to Singapore in the early days of the pandemic in March last year when she allegedly had flu-like symptoms, a court heard.

Served with a Stay Home Notice (SHN) and told to head straight home, Esther Tan Ling Ying purportedly went for a meal with her family at Changi Airport and later visited a general practitioner, where she sought medicine for her symptoms and allegedly lied about her travel history.

She tested positive for COVID-19 barely a few days later.

At the State Courts on Tuesday (9 March), Tan, now 24, claimed trial to contravening the Infectious Diseases Act by exposing others to risk of infection, having reason to suspect that she had come into contact with the virus.

About the case

Tan arrived in Singapore on 23 March from London via Doha and was served with the SHN, which lasted till 6 April.

In his opening statement, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani said Tan was directed to head home immediately.

"Instead, after clearing immigration, she proceeded with her parents to the staff canteen at the airport, where she ate with them. Later that same day, she visited a clinic near her home, where she lied to the attending doctor of her travel history and obtained medicine," he said.

"She herself had flu-like symptoms before her departure from the UK, and this should have reinforced in her that there is a possibility that she may have contracted COVID-19. She had absolutely no excuse for her breach of the SHN, and had engaged in such abhorrent conduct such as lying about her travel history to a GP," the prosecutor added.

The trial continues before District Judge Ng Peng Hong.

If found guilty, Tan faces up to six months' jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

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