Female civil servant arrested under OSA for leaking daily updates of new COVID-19 cases

·Editorial Team
·2-min read
SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - APRIL 17: A migrant worker wearing protective face mask has his temperature checked by a security guard before entering a factory-converted dormitory on April 17, 2020 in Singapore. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 140,000 lives and infecting more than 2 million people. (Photo by Ore Huiying/Getty Images)
A migrant worker has his temperature checked by a security guard before entering a factory-converted dormitory on 17 April 2020 in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A 35-year-old female civil servant has been arrested over alleged leaks of the daily updates of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Singapore prior to their official release, the police said on Thursday (23 April). 

The Singaporean woman is being investigated for wrongful communication of information under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and unauthorised access to computer materials under the Computer Misuse Act (CMA).

On 16 April 2020 at 7.43pm, the police received a report from a member of the public that the number of daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Singapore for that day had been leaked on an Instagram story post, even though the Ministry of Health (MOH) had not publicly released the figure.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the woman, who is an authorised recipient of classified information on COVID-19, had shared the number of new COVID-19 cases for 16 April with members in a private WeChat group. Members in the WeChat group, who were not authorised to receive the classified information, further disseminated the information before MOH had publicly released the information.

Further investigations revealed that the woman had shared Singapore's daily COVID-19 case figures with the members in the WeChat group before MOH publicly released the information on several other occasions.

In addition, the woman had accessed a Government COVID-19 database without authorisation to retrieve confidential records of a person who tested positive for COVID-19, and provided the information to her friend.

“The government takes a serious view of any wrongful communication of confidential information and will deal firmly with anyone who does so,” the police said.

A person who is convicted of the offence of wrongful communication of information under the OSA faces a fine of up to $2,000 and a maximum two-year jail term.

A person who is convicted of unauthorised access to computer materials under the CMA faces a fine of up to $5000 and a maximum two-year jail term.

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