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Jail for nurse who breached SHN to buy bubble tea, visit pregnant friend

Wan Ting Koh
·3-min read
A surgical mask.
A surgical mask. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A nurse breached her Stay-Home Notice (SHN) to buy bubble tea, file an application for further studies, and help a pregnant friend with her wedding preparations.

Nurul Afiqah Mohammed, 22, had understood that she was supposed to be in quarantine, but had left her residence on seven occasions in the two weeks that she was serving her SHN.

Afiqah, who was unrepresented, was jailed for seven weeks on Friday (22 January) after she pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching her SHN by leaving her residence.

Another four charges, comprising the four other occasions, were taken into consideration for her sentencing. These include Afiqah going to the ground level of her block to smoke, visiting Vista Point to buy face masks, Vitamin C and hand sanitiser; visiting an Indian food stall; and buying groceries at an NTUC Fairprice supermarket.

Given SHN after Australia trip

Afiqah, then a nurse at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), had gone to Australia for a holiday on 14 March last year and returned on 21 March.

She was subjected to an SHN which was meant to last from 21 March to 4 April. On the day she returned, Afiqah told her mother she was supposed to “stay home for 14 days to quarantine herself”.

However CCTV footage captured her leaving seven times.

On 23 March, Afiqah took the bus to Causeway Point to buy bubble tea from Koi. She then booked a GrabHitch car to Nanyang Polytechnic to submit an application for further studies. She returned home via a private hire vehicle, sitting in the backseat and wearing a mask.

On 2 April, she left her house from 8.06pm to 1.13am the next day, and took a private hire vehicle to a flat in Punggol Field to assist a 26-year-old friend with her wedding preparations.

The friend’s cousin and parents were also present at the time. All were not aware that Afiqah was on an SHN and Afiqah remained unmasked throughout the visit.

According to court documents, had the friend been aware that Afiqah was on SHN, she would have advised Afiqah to stay at home as the friend was pregnant and did not want to expose her child to COVID-19.

The next day, Afiqah again visited her friend to help with wedding preparations for seven hours. During her SHN, Afiqah or her mother did not experience any fever or sore throat.

Eight days after her SHN ended however, Afiqah had a sore throat and felt feverish. She tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on 13 April.

She was discharged on 20 April and was sent to a community care facility. She was discharged from the facility after she tested negative on 17 May.

According to the prosecution, there was no evidence that Afiqah spread COVID-19 to anyone.

When asked for her mitigation, Afiqah said she had nothing to say.

In response to a query, SGH told Yahoo News Singapore that Afiqah has since left SGH.

“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,” said Chief Human Resource Officer Tan Yang Noi.

For breaching COVID-19 regulations, Afiqah could have been jailed up to six months and/or fined up to $10,000.

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