Singapore

Security guard who flouted stay-home order while infected with Covid-19 jailed 5 months and 2 weeks

A security guard was infected with Covid-19 and told to stay at home, but he instead rushed out to a moneylender, as he was worried that his family would not have enough money to spend over Hari Raya Puasa.

He lied about his health status in order to be served at a Goldstar Credit branch in Hougang. As a result, the outlet had to fork out $600 to disinfect its premises.

Burhanto Rejo, 56, was sentenced to five months and two weeks in jail on Thursday (Oct 14) for flouting a stay-home order while on medical leave.

Burhanto has worked as a security officer since 2018 at a foreign workers' dormitory in Tanah Merah Coast Road. The dormitory became a Covid-19 cluster sometime in May 2020.

On May 18, Burhanto started having acute respiratory symptoms and was placed on medical leave for five days.

A doctor in Yishun Polyclinic reiterated several times that he would have to stay home as required by law, according to court documents. Burhanto informed his supervisor, who also told him to remain at home.

At 9am on May 23, the doctor told him he tested positive for Covid-19 and instructed him to wait for an ambulance to pick him up within the next day.

"(The doctor) again told the accused that he had to isolate himself and stay at home to prevent the infection from spreading to other people," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jun Chong.

A second call came at about 1pm to inform him that an ambulance would arrive in six hours, but Burhanto worried that his family would not have enough money to spend for Hari Raya Puasa, which fell on May 24.

He asked his niece to book a ride to Hougang Mall and from there, he headed to Goldstar Credit at The Midtown to borrow money.

Burhanto, who was not having a fever, lied to the loan officer in his health declaration, denying that he had any flu-like symptoms and stay-home notice order.

He went upstairs and sat on a sofa, but soon received a call from his sister that an ambulance officer was at their house.

As he rushed out of Goldstar Credit and took a taxi home, he received numerous calls from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and the ambulance officer asking for his location.

He returned home at about 3pm and was taken to hospital.

As a result of his trip to Goldstar Credit, the branch was disinfected at a cost of $600, said court documents. Three people he met during his outing - two drivers and a loan officer - and his family members were quarantined.

Seeking a six-month jail term, DPP Ng said there is a heightened need for general deterrence of any offence that endangers public health, all the more so during a pandemic.

"As the accused was Covid-19-positive, the risk of transmission was very high. It was most fortunate that there was no evidence that anyone was infected," said DPP Ng, adding that Burhanto had been reminded many times to stay home.

In his mitigation plea, Burhanto, who was unrepresented in court, said he was the sole breadwinner of his family who had many debts to pay off.

His wife is unable to work here, as she is a foreigner holding a long-term pass, and they had to support their nine-year-old son, he said in Malay through an interpreter.

"I am seeking your leniency to give me a lighter sentence, it will be difficult for my family when I go to prison," he said, as his wife watched in tears at the back of the courtroom.

District Judge Janet Wang granted his request to delay his imprisonment to Nov 22 so that he can prepare documents for financial assistance and make money for his family to tide them over while he is in prison.

She rejected DPP Ng's bid to raise the bail from $2,000 to $3,000, after Burhanto said he could not get a bailor to pay the amount.

COURT & CRIMEcoronavirus