Two Singaporean women charged over leaked Covid-19 numbers
Two Singaporean women were charged yesterday in relation to the leaking of confidential Covid-19 information.
Zhao Zheng, 36, who was the deputy lead of the Ministry of Health's (MOH) data management unit, had 24 charges under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) brought against her.
Zhao was arrested in April last year for allegedly leaking the confidential information but was later released on bail.
Of the charges, 22 relate to her illegally sharing the number of new Covid-19 cases each day for 22 days between March 16 and April 16 last year. Zhao had allegedly shared the daily numbers in a WeChat group that had 49 other members, prior to MOH releasing the numbers officially. The remaining two charges relate to her sharing information on a Covid-19 patient with her friend Tang Lin, also 36.
With her privileged access, Zhao allegedly accessed an MOH Excel document titled "master", which contained the confidential details of Covid-19 patients.
On March 28 last year, she purportedly shared information on the patient with Tang, though Tang was not authorised to receive such information. Tang, whose occupation was not disclosed, was also charged yesterday with 10 counts of wrongful communication under the OSA.
Nine of the charges relate to her allegedly sharing the number of daily cases prior to the figures being officially released by MOH. She is accused of doing this between March 26 and April 16 last year.
The police said 64 others who had received or communicated the information will be issued with stern warnings or written advisories.
In response to queries, an MOH spokesman said Zhao has been suspended from her job.
"The officer was suspended from work once MOH was informed that the police had started investigations, and access to the ministry's confidential information was also terminated. Following the incident, MOH has reviewed and tightened our information security protocols and processes."
The offence of wrongful communication of information under the OSA carries a fine of up to $2,000 and a jail term of up to two years.
Unauthorised recipients of such confidential information are advised by the police to delete and not further circulate it.
Zhao was offered bail of $10,000 and Tang, $5,000.
Both women are expected to be back in court for a further mention of their cases on May 5.