International COVID 19 9 months’ jail for a foreign worker who disobeyed quarantine orders, went...

9 months’ jail for a foreign worker who disobeyed quarantine orders, went to Changi Airport to buy ticket to go home twice

The Indian worker could have been fined as much as $10,000 and jailed for up to six months for each offence under the Infectious Diseases Act.

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Singapore — An Indian worker who left SGH in May 2020 after he had been ordered to remain in hospital, and also illegally left his dormitory a month later, has been given a nine-month jail sentence.

The lawyers who represented Balachandran Parthiban, 26, pro bono pleaded for compassion for him, saying he suffered from an adjustment disorder for which he received little support.

His troubles began when he was sent to Singapore General Hospital on May 23, 2020, because he had a fever and sore throat. 

Upon being brought to SGH, he was tested for Covid-19. 

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While awaiting the results, Balachandran was told he needed to stay put.

However, he disobeyed these orders and left the hospital grounds.

He then went to Changi Airport via bus and taxi and tried to buy a ticket home to India, but the staff at the airport refused to sell him one.

He stayed at the airport for the next four hours, after which the police found him and brought him back to the hospital.

His swab test results the next day showed he was positive for Covid.

By Jun 8 he had recovered and was no longer infectious, and was sent back to his dormitory. 

However, on Jun 16, he left the dormitory with his passport and two bags and went to Changi Airport again to buy a ticket home to India. His second attempt was also unsuccessful.

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After spending the night at the airport, he proceeded to go to the flat of a relative living in Tampines, to whom he told his story. The relative contacted Balachandran’s supervisor, and Balachandran was returned to his dorm by noon on Jun 17.

Balachandran’s pleaded guilty to charges under the Infectious Diseases Act in court on Monday, Jul 12.  

“Instead of returning to the hospital or his dormitory after failing to buy a flight ticket to India… he chose to loiter at Changi International Airport and he increased the risk of spreading Covid-19,” said Norman Yew, the Deputy Public Prosecutor on the case. He classified Balachandran’s to be of the egregious kind.

In the mitigation plea, Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law Corporation, Balachandran’s lawyers, explained his adjustment disorder.

“While the case law is clear that such a mental affliction is not strictly mitigating, we nevertheless plead for the court’s compassion that he was someone who had suffered ‘cabin fever’ while stranded in a foreign land with next to no financial or psychological support.”

The Indian worker could have been fined as much as $10,000 and jailed for up to six months for each offence under the Infectious Diseases Act. /TISG

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Read also: Delivery man who visited 39 clients despite respiratory tract illness gets 4 months’ jail

Delivery man who visited 39 clients despite respiratory tract illness gets 4 months’ jail

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