SINGAPORE — A full-time national serviceman (NSF) with the Singapore Civil Defence Force was jailed for 18 weeks on Monday (11 October) after he left home twice while on medical certificate (MC).
On the second occasion, Fathullah Abdul Rahman, 23, tested positive for COVID-19 after he had left home for more than 10 hours.
Fathullah, who was training to be a section commander at the Civil Defence Academy, has since entered the firefighter course.
He pleaded guilty to twice contravening the Infectious Diseases (Covid-19 –Stay Order) Regulations 2020 by leaving his house while on MC, with two counts of a similar nature taken into consideration for his sentencing.
Facts of the case
On 2 September last year, Fathullah visited the Civil Defence Academy Complex Medical Centre complaining of a sore throat and vomiting. He was diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection and gastritis.
Fathullah then underwent a nasal swab test for COVID-19 and was issued an MC for three days from 2 to 4 September last year. Fathullah was informed that that he was required by law to stay at home for the duration of the MC, and could only leave his home after receiving a negative result for his COVID-19 swab test.
Fathullah returned home but left the next day, even though he had not received his swab test result. He also met a friend the next day, spending about eight-and-a-half hours outside of his residence. He only received a negative swab test result on the morning of 4 September.
On 17 September, Fathullah reported sick again, complaining of a runny nose, a sore throat and a cough. He was again diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection.
He underwent a nasal swab test and was issued another medical certificate for three days from 17 to 19 September. He was again required by law to stay home for the duration of the MC.
The next day however, Fathullah again left home and spent about 10 hours outside.
On 19 September, Fathullah received a positive result for his second COVID swab test and was conveyed to Changi General Hospital, where he was warded for four days from 19 to 22 September. He was then quarantined at the D’Resort at Pasir Ris and discharged on 27 September.
A contact tracer emailed the Surveillance and Enforcement Branch of the Ministry of Health on 20 September to report that Fathullah had left his home during the period of his MC.
A 'position of responsibility'
The prosecution sought five to six months’ jail for Fathullah, while his lawyer Yamuna Balakrishnan sought a jail term of four months.
She said that Fathullah stayed in a three-room flat with six others and slept in the hall. So when he returned home from camp, the lack of space resulted in him leaving the house.
Balakrishnan added, “He paid the price of his career through the change of his vocation and ability to specialise in certain selection.”
However, District Judge Christopher Goh noted that even though Fathullah had been selected for a "position of responsibility", he still decided to do something which, even without the pandemic, is a disciplinary offence in a uniformed service.
Fathullah could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed up to six months.
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