Hotel concierge on medical leave for symptoms related to COVID-19 left home to see friend, gets jail

SINGAPORE: A hotel concierge at Fullerton Hotel was given medical leave for five days after…

SINGAPORE: A hotel concierge at Fullerton Hotel was given medical leave for five days after reporting a cough and runny nose, but failed to stay at home as instructed.

Instead of staying at home, Prabu Rajendran went to stay over with a friend and later took a cab home without a mask, falling asleep in the vehicle and getting arrested after tussling with police officers.

He was later found to have flouted conditions of his five-day medical certificate while filling up a health declaration at the police station.

The 28-year-old man was given two weeks’ jail on Wednesday (May 5) for one charge of failing to stay home for five days while on medical leave for acute respiratory symptoms.

The court heard that Prabu reported to work at Fullerton Hotel at about 1pm on Apr 2, 2020. As he felt feverish, he told his supervisor of his condition and was told to see a doctor.

He left the hotel and went to Raffles Medical Clinic in Raffles Place, where he told a doctor that he had a cough with phlegm and that his nose was runny. 

He was diagnosed with acute respiratory infection and given sick leave for five days from Apr 2 to Apr 6 last year. The doctor told him to stay at home for the entire duration of his MC, and the hard copy of the certificate stated he needed to do so by law.

The doctor advised Prabu that he was allowed to leave home only if he needed medical assistance and asked him to get his family to help if he needed food or to call for food delivery.

Prabu went home and took a nap but woke up before 9pm that day. When his friend invited him over for dinner, he agreed and took a cab to her home.

He did not wear a face mask despite his symptoms. At her home, he drank alcohol and became intoxicated, and spent the night with her.

The next day, when leaving his friend’s home, Prabu boarded a cab to return to his home. He did not wear a mask on this trip and fell asleep along the way.

When the cab arrived at his home, the taxi driver was unable to get Prabu to alight or pay the fare, so he called the police for help.

Police officers who arrived at the scene tried to wake Prabu up and subsequently managed to get him to alight. When they asked him whether or not he intended to pay the cab fare, Prabu became uncooperative and started raising his voice.

He was arrested after he failed to calm down and was escorted to Bedok Police Division headquarters. While filling up a health declaration there, he disclosed that he was on five days’ MC. He did not have COVID-19.

The prosecutor sought at least four weeks’ jail, saying that Prabu had symptoms associated with COVID-19 but failed to take reasonable precautions.

He left his home for about 13 hours for a frivolous reason, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani. He also “displayed a wanton disregard for the safety and well-being of the general public” and did not tell his friend he was on medical leave, he said.

The defence tried to ask for the maximum fine of S$10,000.

For failing to comply with the conditions to stay at home as stated in his medical certificate, Prabu could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.

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