Hotel staff who went to work despite MC’s imprisonment for 8 weeks

SINGAPORE – A hotel worker who was put on sick leave and told not to leave his residence in April last year instead went to work for the next three days.

He concealed the fact that a medical certificate (MC) had been issued to him by colleagues and supervisors.

Chan Foo Mun’s only saving grace, District Judge Jasvinder Kaur said, was that he had not tested positive for COVID-19, despite having acute respiratory symptoms.

Chan, a 43-year-old Singaporean, was jailed for eight weeks on Tuesday August 10 after pleading guilty to two counts under the Infectious Disease Act for putting others at risk of the virus by his presence in public places on two occasions during sick leave. Five other charges of a similar nature were considered for his conviction.

Worked as a hotel receptionist

Chan was a receptionist at the front desk of a hotel at the J8 Hotel, located at 8 Townshend Road. In January of last year, the hotel encountered a guest who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Her employer applied the policy that people with MCs were not allowed to report to work.

Chan attended the Care Family Clinic along Buffalo Road on April 19 last year and completed a questionnaire related to the COVID-19 situation while awaiting his turn. He was seeking medical attention for a cough and a stuffy nose that lasted for about two to three days. At the time, Singapore entered a partial lockdown known as the circuit breaker from April 7 due to the escalating pandemic.

He was seen by a doctor who diagnosed him with an acute respiratory infection accompanied by acute respiratory symptoms. During the consultation, the doctor specifically informed Chan that he would be issued a five-day MC from April 19 to 23, 2020.

The doctor added that this was a stay-at-home notice, so Chan should stay home and not leave for any purpose other than seeing a doctor. The doctor pointed out that Chan was not allowed to leave his residence, even to buy food, and that he had to find someone who could help him.

After the consultation was over, Chan was told to wait to receive his MC and medication. Instead of waiting, however, Chan left the clinic without paying and went to work at his hotel.

“The accused did it because ‘it was embarrassing’, the accused knew the hotel policy in effect … and he did not want his salary to be deducted due to his inability to surrender at work, ”Deputy Attorney General Kenneth said. Kee.

From April 19 to 21, Chan went to work every day. He hid the fact that he had seen a doctor and was issued an MC. As a receptionist he also interacted with hotel guests.

On April 20, Chan also left his residence to purchase lunch at a food center located in Block 527 Ang Mo Kio between trips to work. He interacted with at least four colleagues at the hotel. He was also not wearing a mask in an elevator lobby at his residence.

Two days later, two officials from the Ministry of Health visited Chan at his home. Health Ministry agents questioned Chan about his visit to the clinic on April 19 and told him that he was legally required to stay at home for the duration of the MC before leaving.

Chan stayed home that day, but left home on April 23 at 11:40 a.m. to buy food again.

Priority to “personal profit”

Chan’s attorney, Cory Wong, requested a jail term of up to six weeks, pointing out that Chan had not tested positive.

DPP Kee requested three months in jail, noting that Chan left the clinic without officially receiving his MC because he wanted to go to work.

“In doing so, the accused was motivated by concerns of personal profit which he prioritized over public safety,” said the DPP.

DJ Kaur noted that while the violations were not for frivolous reasons, as Chan was concerned about his livelihood, this must be balanced with Chan placing his own personal interests above the health of others with who he interacted with.

For putting others at risk of COVID-19 infection, Chan could have been jailed for up to six months and / or fined up to $ 10,000 for a first offense.

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