Man, 64, who deliberately coughed on colleagues while infected with Covid ‘as a joke’ is jailed for two weeks
- Tamilselvam Ramaiya coughed at colleagues, one of which was a dialysis patient
- He had tested positive for Covid minutes before but refused to leave the building
A man who deliberately coughed in the direction of colleagues having tested positive for COVID-19 in Singapore has been hit with a short jail sentence despite arguing the stunt was ‘just a joke’.
Tamilselvam Ramaiya, 64, an employee at the investment holding firm Leong Hup Singapore, was sentenced on Monday to two weeks behind bars for putting his coworkers in harm’s way and infecting one of them with the virus.
This incident took place during a period of heightened restrictions in the fall of 2021, leading to charges under Singapore’s COVID-19 Temporary Measures Act.
Singapore was known for its strict measures throughout the pandemic and only rolled back some of its more restrictive measures in February of this year.
Tamilselvam Ramaiya, 64, an employee at the investment holding firm Leong Hup Singapore, was sentenced on Monday to two weeks behind bars for putting his coworkers in harm’s way and infecting one of them with the virus in 2021 (FILE PIC: Covid vaccination centre in Singapore October 2021)
On October 18, 2021, Ramaiya, employed as a cleaner at Leong Hup Singapore, reported for work at the firm’s logistics office, according to The Straits Times.
He was instructed to undergo an antigen rapid test, which returned a positive result.
Following protocol, he was told to leave the building immediately but Ramaiya instead decided to stay in the building and engage with the assistant logistics manager, 40, and a 56-year-old female clerk with a litany of health problems, including severe kidney issues which had required her to undergo dialysis.
‘The accused [Ramaiya], who was initially wearing his mask, walked towards the office door and exited the office,’ Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana said in a statement.
‘However, he then opened the office door and coughed into the office with his mask on. The accused did this twice, before the [logistics supervisor] closed the office door with his leg.’
After being ushered out of the room, Ramaiya opened the door again, this time lowering his mask to cough in the direction of the logistics manager and clerk.
Ramaiya was instructed to undergo an antigen rapid test, which returned a positive result. He then proceeded to cough on colleagues, including one who suffered severe heart and kidney issues
He then headed out for good but, still seeking to make his colleagues uncomfortable, opened a window from the outside and coughed through the gap.
Ramaiya’s lawyer argued his client was not acting out of malice and requested he pay a fine, but the court ultimately chose to send him behind bars given the serious health issues of the 56-year-old clerk, which were known to Ramaiya.
The World Health Organisation reports that Singapore has witnessed over 2.5 million COVID cases between January 3, 2020, and September 13 of this year, resulting in approximately 1,870 deaths.
The Singapore Ministry of Health has declared roughly 81 percent of its population has received some form of vaccination protection.
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