Cleaner jailed for 12 weeks after flouting quarantine order
He was a cleaner at a shopping mall and his colleague tested positive for Covid-19.
Because of this, Soh Poh Tiong, 65, was told to go home and not report to work until further notice.
But for three days, Ministry of Health (MOH) officers were unable to serve a home quarantine order on him as he was not at his flat in Ang Mo Kio.
Even after the order was served, Soh repeatedly breached it, travelling to public places all over Singapore out of sheer boredom, and spending hours on public buses.
Yesterday, he was jailed for 12 weeks after pleading guilty to three offences under the Infectious Diseases Act. Five similar charges were taken into consideration by District Judge Brenda Tan during sentencing.
Soh was employed as a cleaner by Clean Solutions and stationed at Northpoint City mall in Yishun. On April 25, a cluster of seven cases were linked to the mall and by May 9, there were 18 cases, including two cleaners.
Soh reported to work on May 10 and was told to go home. MOH officers were only able to serve him a quarantine order on May 13. Soh was required to remain isolated at home until May 22 and expressly told not to leave the premises, even to buy food.
But for eight consecutive days between May 14 and May 22, he went for walks and visited bus interchanges in Clementi, Tampines and Harbourfront, as well as Toa Payoh Hub, where he interacted with staff at a public office to pay bills.
Soh spent most of his time outside on public transport. On three of the eight days, his EZ-Link card records showed he spent more than 10 hours on public buses each day.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Kee said it was purely fortuitous that Soh did not contract Covid-19.
While he acknowledged that Soh had worn a mask, the DPP said Soh's acts were irresponsible and undermined the efforts to combat the virus' spread.
Noting that Soh was fully aware he was a direct close contact of a positive case, DPP Kee said his culpability was the highest among known offenders who had flouted quarantine orders.
Soh, who was unrepresented, said he had "no other choice".
He said in mitigation that when he was unemployed previously, he did not stay at home either. "Being alone is very boring," he said in Mandarin.
For each of his offences, Soh could have been fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to six months, or both.