Despite claiming the stunt was “just a joke,” a man in Singapore who purposefully coughed in the direction of coworkers after testing positive for Covid-19 received a brief jail sentence.
Tamilselvam Ramaiya, 64, a worker at the investment holding company Leong Hup Singapore, was given a two-week prison term on Monday for endangering his employees and giving one of them the virus.
The incident occurred in the autumn of 2021 during a time of increased restrictions, and it resulted in charges under Singapore’s Covid-19 Temporary Measures Act.
Throughout the pandemic, Singapore was renowned for its stringent regulations; only in February of this year did it begin to relax some of these more stringent regulations.
Ramaiya, a cleaner for Leong Hup Singapore, showed up for work at the company’s logistics office on October 18, 2021, according to The Straits Times.
He was instructed to undergo an antigen rapid test, which returned a positive result.
Ramaiya was instructed to leave the building immediately in accordance with protocol, but instead chose to stay to speak with the assistant logistics manager, 40, and a 56-year-old female clerk who had a long list of medical issues, including severe kidney problems that had forced her to undergo dialysis.
The defendant [Ramaiya], who was initially wearing his mask, “walked towards the office door and exited the office,” according to a statement from deputy public prosecutor Sruthi Boppana.
But after that, he opened the office door and entered the room while wearing a mask, coughing. Before the [logistics supervisor] closed the office door with his leg, the accused did this twice.
Ramaiya opened the door once more after being escorted out of the space, this time lowering his mask to cough toward the logistics manager and clerk.
He then left the building permanently, but not before opening a window from the outside and coughing through the opening to further annoy his coworkers.
The court ultimately decided to imprison Ramaiya despite his attorney’s arguments that his client wasn’t acting maliciously and his request for a fine given the 56-year-old clerk’s serious health issues, which Ramaiya was aware of.
According to the World Health Organization, between January 3, 2020, and September 13, this year, Singapore saw more than 2.5 million cases of Covid, resulting in over 1,870 fatalities. The Singapore Ministry of Health reports that 81% of citizens have had their shots.