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Construction worker fined for breaching COVID-19 quarantine order to go to a bank

Construction worker fined for breaching COVID-19 quarantine order to go to a bank

Liu Dufeng outside the State Courts, Apr 17, 2020. (Photo: Marcus Mark Ramos)

SINGAPORE: A construction worker was fined S$2,000 in court on Thursday (Jun 11) for breaching his quarantine order to visit a bank.

Chinese national Liu Dufeng, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of breaching quarantine, with a second similar charge taken in consideration.

The court heard that Liu was a construction worker with Cheng Ji Builder at the time of the offence. 

As he was suspected to have been in contact with a person infected with COVID-19, he was issued a quarantine order to be isolated at 45 Genting Road between Feb 12 and Feb 24. 

The order was explained to him in Mandarin, and Liu acknowledged that he understood it and signed to indicate so.

Liu said he received a text message from DBS on Feb 14, stating that someone had withdrawn S$1,000 from his account.

He said he received a second message from the bank on Feb 20, stating that someone had withdrawn RM900 (S$294) from his account.

He did not make either of these transactions, and tried calling the bank hotline to resolve the matter, but he did not understand what the bank was saying, the court was told.

At about 10.30am on Feb 21, Liu decided to make a trip down to the POSB branch at MacPherson Road to ask about the withdrawals.

He wore a mask and left his dormitory, without informing anyone from the Ministry of Health or any relevant authorities, despite knowing he was still under quarantine.

He walked to MacPherson Road and realised that the POSB branch was no longer there. It closed in 2011.

While he was there, Liu received a call from a Certis CISCO officer, asking him where he was. He returned to his dormitory at noon after breaching his quarantine order for one-and-a-half hours. 

Certis CISCO officers served him an extended quarantine order to remain at his place of isolation between Feb 12 and noon on Feb 25.

The prosecutor asked for a fine of S$2,500, comparing the case to another foreign worker, Vardireddy Nageswara Reddy, who had breached his quarantine order to buy a shaver for work.

READ: Foreign worker fined for breaching quarantine to buy a shaver for work the next day

She said Liu's sentence should be lower than Vardireddy, as his reasons for leaving his dorm were "arguably less frivolous", and there was no evidence that Liu interacted with anyone in his journey to MacPherson Road and back.

However, she said Liu's sentence should be higher than Tay Chun Hsien, who was fined S$1,500 for breaching his home quarantine order half an hour before it ended.

This is because Tay had mistaken the time, but Liu knew his quarantine order was still in force, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Phoebe Tan.

She said that there was still "an alarming number of breaches", despite repeated warnings that such orders are to be complied with.

For breaching his quarantine, Liu could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.

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Source: CNA/ll(mi)

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