SINGAPORE, Sept 18 — A man, who turned up to work with a runny nose, found out that he was infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus after being told to take an Antigen Rapid Test (ART).
But instead of heading home to rest, he decided to cough at his colleagues “as a joke”, one of whom was a dialysis patient who suffered from heart and renal problems.
Today, Tamilselvam Ramaiya, 64, was sentenced to two weeks’ jail after pleading guilty to one count of breaching a Covid-19 regulation which is under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020.
Two other similar breach offences were taken into consideration for sentencing.
The court heard that at the time of the offence, Tamilselvam was working as a cleaner for Leong Hup Singapore, an investment holding company.
Sometime on the morning of October 18, 2021, Tamilselvam reported for work but as he was having a running nose, he informed Mr Raymond Ng, the assistant logistics manager of the company, that he was feeling unwell.
Mr Ng then instructed Tamilselvam to take an ART.
Another colleague, who administered the test for Tamilselvam, told him to inform Mr Ng of the result and return home.
When he was informed of the ART result, Mr Ng also informed other colleagues that Tamilselvam tested positive for Covid-19.
Instead of returning home, Tamilselvam proceeded to the logistics office, an enclosed air-conditioned room, to look for Mr Ng to update him about the positive Covid-19 test, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sruthi Boppana.
At around 10.30am, Tamilselvam entered the office with Mr Han Falun, the company’s driver who was unaware of the cleaner’s positive ART result.
Upon seeing Tamilselvam, logistics supervisor Wu Junpeng told Mr Han not to go near Tamilselvam as he had tested positive for Covid-19.
Mr Wu then asked Tamilselvam to leave the office and mimicked the act of kicking the cleaner out.
Tamilselvam, who was initially wearing his mask, left the office but then opened the office door to cough into the office with his mask on.
He did this twice before Mr Wu used his leg to close the office door.
That did not stop Tamilselvam who opened the door again and lowered his mask to cough into the office for a third time before leaving.
As Tamilselvam passed by one of the windows of the logistics office, he opened the window from the outside to cough once, with his mask on, in the direction of clerk Maria Glennis Yim, who was seated next to the window.
He also said “kena Covid, kena Covid” which caused alarm to both Mr Wu and Ms Yim as they knew he was Covid positive, said DPP Sruthi.
“Kena” means get in Malay.
It was particularly alarming for Ms Yim, who was a dialysis patient suffering from both cardiac and renal issues, as she quickly did the ART on herself after Tamilselvam coughed in her direction.
None of Tamilselvam’s colleagues contracted Covid-19 from the incident which Tamilselvam asserted was a joke.
A police report was made on the same day in the evening by Mr Ng about Tamilselvam’s breach of Covid-19 regulations.
Seeking a sentence of three to four weeks’ jail for Tamilselvam, DPP Sruthi said that his act had represented a wanton disregard for his colleagues.
The prosecution pointed out that Tamilselvam’s actions ought to be deemed as a serious breach as his actions of coughing with his mask lowered placed his colleagues at substantial risk especially for Ms Yim who had serious health issues.
Defence counsel Lee Wei Yung urged Principal District Judge Victor Yeo to consider a lighter sentence for Tamilselvam who had acted “out of foolishness” and “out of jest” with no malicious intent behind his action.
While not excusing his client from the offence, Mr Lee asked the court to impose less than what the prosecution was asking for, or if possible, a fine.
For breaching a Covid-19 regulation under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, Tamilselvam could have been fined up to S$10,000 (RM35,369) or jailed up to six months, or both. — TODAY