The Singapore KTV cluster that erupted this week may eventually hit more than 100 cases. There are currently 88 cases with links to the KTV cluster at the time of reporting.
On Monday (Jul 12), the Ministry of Health (MOH) first announced the KTV cluster. At that time, it was called the Case 64693 cluster – with three cases linked to it.
MOH said that day it was investigating cases of infection among Vietnamese social hostesses who had frequented KTV lounges or clubs currently operating as food and beverage (F&B) outlets, as well as their close social contacts.
Then on Tuesday, MOH officially named the cases as the KTV lounges/clubs cluster and stated that the cluster had swelled to 12 cases, with likely ongoing COVID-19 transmission at three KTV outlets.
KTV Cluster patient Zero background
Case 64693 is a female Vietnamese national who entered Singapore via the familial ties route in February this year. Her Singaporean boyfriend sponsored her entry into Singapore.
The woman who is the index case went to a general practitioner clinic on July 11 with symptoms of acute respiratory infection. The GP found she had tested positive for the Covid-19 disease. Authorities immediately admitted her to the hospital.
Contact tracing and investigations later showed the woman had frequented many KTV outlets.
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authorities (ICA) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) are currently conducting investigations into vice-related activities. ICA and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released a press statement regarding the Vietnamese hostesses today.
How did they get permission to operate?
In November last year, the Singapore government allowed nightlife operators to pivot to the F&B industry’s food and beverage (F&B) industry. Some KTVs obtained permission to operate as Bistros and F&B outlets. According to KTV patrons interviewed, it is just like the days before the pandemic. Hostesses would greet customers without masks, and the customers would then proceed to remove their masks. Although trace together tokens are set up, many customers do not check-in due to fear of being traced. Fondling, groping, and even discreet sexual penetration are pretty typical in such settings. Ivan (not real name) said, “Entering the KTV, you feel like it’s just like before Covid. You forget there’s even a pandemic. You are having fun with your buddies and the girls.”
Not all are bad
Nine family-style karaoke businesses have come together to petition the authorities to give them a separate classification from the types associated with the KTV lounges linked to a growing Covid-19 cluster.
The petition, titled “Separate family karaoke from nightclubs and KTV with hostesses and allow us to operate safely”, started on Thursday (July 15) on the petition website Change.org.
It urges the Government to create a new Family Karaoke category so that they are not classified under “cabarets, nightclubs, discotheques, dance clubs and karaoke lounges”.
There are still many questions regarding this cluster. How did so many hostesses arrive on our shores during this pandemic? How did these KTV operate so loosely without much enforcement? Will Singapore go into another lockdown due to the irresponsibilities of these KTV patrons? Only the authorities have the answers.
Today, the authorities reverted to the 2 diners per table rule again. Thanks to this KTV cluster.
In conclusion, this cluster has rocked and shocked Singapore like no other.