SINGAPORE: Despite being given a medical certificate and told to stay at home until after his COVID-19 swab tested negative, a 20-year-old man left his residence to meet his girlfriend and pick up her things so she could stay with him.
Foo Suan Rong pleaded guilty on Monday (Apr 5) to one charge of leaving his home when he was supposed to stay home on medical leave. A second charge of exposing others to the risk of infection of COVID-19 will be considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Foo went to Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic at about 3.30pm on Sep 16 last year to seek medical treatment for a sore throat and blocked nose that he had suffered for three days.
A doctor examined him and diagnosed him with acute respiratory infection and issued him with a medical certificate. The certificate stated that Foo was unfit for duty for three days from Sep 16 to Sep 18 last year.
The doctor explained the legal requirement that Foo had to stay at home until his COVID-19 swab tested negative or until the period of the MC was over.
He also gave Foo a copy of the Health Ministry's advisory for patients given MCs for acute respiratory symptoms.
Foo went for a COVID-19 swab test that day after the doctor told him he had to do so and went home.
However, the next morning, Foo left his home and walked to Choa Chu Kang MRT Station where he took a train to Admiralty MRT Station and met his girlfriend, 20-year-old Cherry Wong Kam Chi.
Together, they took a train to Somerset, where Ms Wong went to a gym. Foo waited for her before heading off together at 4.30pm for dinner in the area.
They walked around Orchard and Somerset before taking a train back to Admiralty MRT Station at about 10.25pm.
They went to Ms Wong's home where she took some belongings to stay overnight with Foo, and took another train back to Choa Chu Kang MRT Station at about 11.40pm.
They arrived at Foo's home just past midnight on Sep 18, 2020. Foo had received an SMS on his phone at about 11.25pm on Sep 17, 2020, informing him that he tested negative for COVID-19.
However, he admitted that he saw the message only the next day.
On Oct 13, 2020, the Ministry of Health was notified that Foo had left his home during the period of his MC and before he was notified of his negative COVID-19 swab test result.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jasmin Kaur called for at least a week's jail, saying Foo had left home the day after he was issued an MC "for no good reason and simply to hang out with his girlfriend".
"In so doing, the accused displayed a wanton disregard for the safety and well-being of the general public," she said.
He had symptoms associated with COVID-19 and had left his home for about 13 hours, going to several locations including Orchard Road where human traffic is high, she added.
The judge called for reports to assess Foo's suitability for community service orders and a day reporting order and adjourned the case to May.