It was reported in the media today (14 Jul) that the “index case” of the recently discovered COVID-19 cluster originating from KTV lounges is a Vietnamese hostess who is in Singapore on a short-term visit pass (STVP).
She first visited a clinic on Sunday (11 Jul) with acute respiratory infection symptoms. She was immediately taken to a hospital after she was tested positive for COVID-19. Authorities then started contact tracing and epidemiological investigations, and discovered that the Vietnamese woman had frequented numerous KTV outlets.
Some of the other Vietnamese girls working as KTV hostesses were also found to be living with her in the same household.
The KTV cluster has shot up to 53 in total with 41 new cases discovered today. Of the 41, nine were already placed in quarantine and the rest were detected through surveillance.
Cases tied to KTV lounges were first announced on Monday (12 Jul).
Health Minister: Tell your family you have visited KTVs
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung asked anyone who had visited KTV lounges in the past 14 days to come forward and get tested for COVID-19. “If you have been to KTV lounges, interacted with any hostesses, since Jun 29, come forward and be tested. The process is confidential,” Ong urged.
“If you’re still somehow uncomfortable for whatever reason, and really don’t feel like doing it, at the very least I can only urge you if you’ve visited KTV lounges and interacted with hostesses since Jun 29, at the very least stay at home, tell your family about it.”
“Make sure you have your own room, isolate yourself, get your family to buy you some ART kits, test yourself, don’t interact with anybody, and monitor your health for the next 14 days,” he said.
Apparently, the Vietnamese hostesses have applied for passes and been approved by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) under the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to enter Singapore. MHA has a record of who they are, the media reported.
The authorities are suspecting that the KTV lounges are operating allegedly illegally to begin with, said Ong.
Ong added that the police will take action against lounges and hostesses who may have breached safe management measures.
Purpose of Short Term Visit Pass
A Short Term Visit Pass (STVP) allows a foreign national to arrive in Singapore as a tourist, for social purpose or to get medical treatments.
According to ICA website, STVP holders “shall be subjected to the condition that the holder shall not engage in any form of employment (paid or unpaid) or in any business, profession or occupation in Singapore during the validity of that pass unless he is a holder of a valid work pass issued under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act 1990.”
ICA website did not elaborate if STVP holders can work as KTV lounge hostesses.
Meanwhile, Supreme KTV manager who only gave his name as Mr Li told the media that they have been following safe management protocols.
Li stressed that his establishment does not hire hostesses, and he did not know who the infected Vietnamese hostesses were. Instead, he said they were likely patrons.
“To be honest, I do not know who they are. For our part, we allow customers to come in whether they’re hostesses, or Singaporeans, or Chinese nationals or Vietnamese. We are not racist … We don’t exclude (any group),” said Li.
“All of us are hoping we can reopen to nightlife entertainment… the Government has given us a chance to operate as F&B, so we try our best to adhere to the rules that the Government sets.”