Indian national jailed for breaching Covid-19 restrictions in Singapore.
A 26-year-old Indian national was sentenced to nine months in jail on Monday for trying to leave Singapore during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when he was asked to wait in a hospital for the results of his swab test.
Balachandran Parthiban’s test came back positive for COVID-19 after police detained him at Changi Airport and escorted him back to Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
He had taken public transport there, tried unsuccessfully to buy a ticket to India, and loitered at Changi Airport Terminal 1 for about four hours, the TODAY newspaper reported.
The foreign worker later violated an isolation order and returned to the airport in another attempt to fly home.
After he pleaded guilty in May to a charge of exposing others to the risk of COVID-19 and leaving an area of isolation without permission, his pro bono attorney Cory Wong asked to be sent to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). by psychiatric evaluation.
After a nearly four-week stay at IMH, Balachandran was diagnosed with “adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and behavior” at the time of his crimes in May last year.
Dr. Stephen Phang found that the “minor” mental disorder did not cause him to abdicate his ability to take mental responsibility for his actions.
He still had the mental capacity to tell right from wrong and was not ill, the psychiatrist added.
However, his subsequent psychiatric history showed that he later developed a full-blown “schizophreniform psychosis”, which was likely reactive and precipitated by the continued stress of being safely confined, along with his constant concerns about his family situation. in India, ”states Dr. Phang’s medical report.
When he was at IMH, Balachandran reported hearing voices telling him to commit suicide and making it difficult for him to control his actions.
He is now taking a reduced dose of antipsychotic medication as he is clinically well, the psychiatrist added.
Assistant District Attorney Norman Yew requested 10 months in “jail for Balachandran, while Wong asked for six and a half months” in jail.
In sentencing, District Judge Ronald Gwee considered two other charges of exposing others to the risk of infection and using insulting words toward a health official.
For each count of violating COVID-19 laws, Balachandran could have been jailed for up to six months or fined SGD10,000, or both.
The court previously heard that Balachandran was a resident of the Jurong Penjuru dormitory for foreign workers, which had been listed as an isolation area on April 18 last year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
On the morning of May 23, he reported ill in his bedroom and complained of a fever and a sore throat.
He was then taken to SGH by ambulance to undergo a COVID-19 smear test around 12:45 p.m.
About an hour later, he was transferred to the hospital’s “fever screening area” in SGH’s multi-story parking lot and repeatedly told to wait for the results of the swab test.
However, he left the car park around 5.35 pm without warning because he wanted to buy a plane ticket back to India at Changi airport. He walked 2.1 km before taking a public bus and a taxi.
The results of his swab test later showed that he was a confirmed case of COVID-19.
At the airport, he tried to buy his plane ticket, but to no avail, and was later picked up by the police after they found him loitering in Terminal 1. They escorted him back to SGH.
Balachandran completed his period of isolation at the hospital on June 8 last year and was diagnosed as no longer infectious. He returned to the bedroom, was ordered to serve another 14 days of leave of absence, and was not allowed to leave the bedroom.
But again he went to the airport on June 16. He wanted to leave Singapore because he knew that there were many dormitory residents who were infected, the court heard.
He took a taxi to the airport around 5.50 am that day with the intention of buying a plane ticket to India, but was again rejected.
After spending the night sleeping at the airport, he went to a relative’s home in Tampines the next day and revealed that he had left his bedroom without permission.