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Janani Kalaychelvam, 24, ignored her doctor's instructions to stay home after she was diagnosed with an acute upper respiratory infection and issued a medical certificate. ― TODAY pic
Janani Kalaychelvam, 24, ignored her doctor’s instructions to stay home after she was diagnosed with an acute upper respiratory infection and issued a medical certificate. ― TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Oct 5 — A 24-year-old woman was jailed 13 days today (October 5) for contravening Covid-19 laws by ignoring her doctor’s instructions to stay home after she was diagnosed with an acute upper respiratory infection and issued a medical certificate (MC).

Instead of taking her scheduled Covid-19 swab test two days later, Janani Kalaychelvam left her Yishun home to visit Northpoint City mall and her boyfriend’s home.

Under the law, those diagnosed with an acute respiratory infection and given an MC cannot leave their home until they test negative for Covid-19. Janani ultimately did not test positive.

The Singaporean pleaded guilty last month to one charge of contravening Covid-19 laws, with another two similar charges taken into consideration for sentencing.

Today, the prosecution sought at least two weeks’ jail for Janani, saying there is a need to deter the public against any action that endangers public health, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

Janani’s defence lawyer Tan Jun Yin argued that a short detention order of the same length would achieve a similar purpose, without marring Janani’s prospects of becoming a Tamil language teacher.

A short-detention order means offenders will serve time behind bars for up to two weeks, but will have no criminal record when released.

In an apology letter Janani addressed to the court, she said that she has since signed up as a volunteer at the Singapore Indian Development Association, a self-help group to uplift the socio-economic status of the Indian community in Singapore.

“At the time of the incident I did not understand the seriousness of my actions and offences. Now I understand how many people I put at risk because of my negligence. I regret it,” she said.

“Though it is an offence that can’t be undone, I’d like to ensure I’ve taken the first few steps to make amends and grow to be a better person.”

Considering the punishments meted out for similar offences in the past, the judge said that he accepted the prosecution’s submissions of two weeks’ jail.

“I do accept that there are mitigation factors in this case, but they are sort of evened out by the fact that your client, Madam Janani, also has charges (taken into consideration),” he said as he delivered his sentence.

About the case

The court heard that Janani had gone to OneDoctors Family Clinic along Yishun Ring Road on the evening of January 30 this year.

She complained of having a sore throat, cough and shortness of breath for a few days. The doctor told her to take a swab test in light of her symptoms.

However, he then checked with the clinic assistant and was told they had stopped collecting swab samples by that time. He explained to Janani that she had to return two days later for the swab test, to which she agreed.

The doctor also said that he would usually issue a three-day MC for patients who took the test on the spot, but since she would be returning two days later, he would issue her a five-day MC.

He explained that she could not leave home during this period except to seek medical treatment or go to the clinic.

Despite acknowledging this, she took a taxi to her friend’s house to have dinner and remained there till about 3.50am.

On the day she was supposed to get her swab test, she instead stayed out for more than five hours. She went shopping at Northpoint City around 7.30pm before taking a taxi to her boyfriend’s home.

He and his mother were home and she stayed there till about 1am.

Those convicted of breaching Covid-19 laws can be jailed for up to six months or fined up to S$10,000 (RM30,786), or both. ― TODAY

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