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Singapore court jails Indian-origin woman for breaking COVID-19 laws

She pleaded guilty last month to one charge of contravening COVID-19 laws


An Indian-origin woman in Singapore was jailed for 13 days on Tuesday for flouting COVID-19 laws by ignoring to stay at home after she was diagnosed with an acute upper respiratory infection and given a medical certificate (MC).

Under the law, those diagnosed with an acute respiratory infection and given an MC cannot leave their home until they test negative for COVID-19.

Instead of taking her scheduled COVID-19 swab test two days later, 24-year-old Janani Kalaychelvam left home in Yishun housing estate to visit Northpoint City (shopping) mall and her boyfriend's home, the TODAY newspaper reported.

Kalaychelvam ultimately did not test positive, the report said. She pleaded guilty last month to one charge of contravening COVID-19 laws, with another two similar charges taken into consideration for sentencing.

On Tuesday, the prosecution sought at least two weeks' jail for Kalaychelvam, saying there is a need to deter the public against any action that endangers public health, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

Kalaychelvam's defence lawyer Tan Jun Yin argued that a short detention order of the same length would achieve a similar purpose, without marring the Indian-origin woman's prospects of becoming a Tamil language teacher.

A short-detention order means offenders will serve time behind bars for up to two weeks, but will have no criminal record when released.

In an apology letter addressed to the court, Kalaychelvam said she has since signed up as a volunteer at the Singapore Indian Development Association, a self-help group to uplift the socio-economic status of the Indian community in Singapore.

At the time of the incident, I did not understand the seriousness of my actions and offences. Now I understand how many people I put at risk because of my negligence. I regret it, she said.

Though it is an offence that can't be undone, I'd like to ensure I've taken the first few steps to make amends and grow to be a better person, she wrote.

Those convicted of breaching COVID-19 laws can be jailed for up to six months or fined up to Singapore dollars 10,000, or both. 

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