A man who, in a misguided attempt at humor, coughed at his colleagues while testing positive for COVID-19 has been sentenced to two weeks in jail.
According to a report by TODAY, Tamilselvam Ramaiya, 64, was found guilty of breaching regulations under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020. Two other similar breach offenses were considered during sentencing.
Tamilselvam was employed as a cleaner at Leong Hup Singapore, an investment holding company, when the incident occurred on the morning of October 18, 2021. He reported for work with a runny nose and was promptly instructed by Mr. Raymond Ng, the assistant logistics manager, to take an Antigen Rapid Test (ART).
Upon receiving a positive ART result, Tamilselvam, instead of heading home as advised, decided to approach his colleagues while wearing a mask. He entered the logistics office, an enclosed air-conditioned room, to inform Mr. Ng of the positive result.
However, the situation took a concerning turn when Tamilselvam, in an apparent attempt at jest, coughed multiple times while inside the office.
Despite being warned about his COVID-19 status and told to leave by logistics supervisor Wu Junpeng, Tamilselvam continued his actions. He even coughed through an open window towards a colleague, Maria Glennis Yim, while uttering the words “kena Covid, kena Covid,” which means “got Covid” in Malay.
This act caused alarm among his colleagues, particularly Ms. Yim, who was a dialysis patient dealing with both cardiac and renal issues. Concerned for her health, she quickly conducted an ART test on herself after Tamilselvam’s actions.
Fortunately, none of Tamilselvam’s colleagues contracted COVID-19 from the incident, but the prosecution argued that his actions showed a reckless disregard for their well-being.
The defense, however, contended that Tamilselvam’s actions were foolish and made in jest, without malicious intent.
The prosecution sought a sentence of three to four weeks’ jail, emphasizing the gravity of the breach, especially given the risks to Ms. Yim’s health. Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, Tamilselvam could have faced a fine of up to S$10,000 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both.
While acknowledging the seriousness of the offense, the defense requested a lighter sentence for Tamilselvam, suggesting a fine or a lesser jail term.
In the end, Principal District Judge Victor Yeo sentenced Tamilselvam to two weeks in jail, considering both the prosecution’s concerns about the severity of the breach and the defense’s argument about intent.
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