On Friday Jul 16th, Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) issued a joint-statement. The joint-statement is in relation to the first COVID-19 case reported from the KTV cluster.
The authorities said a Vietnamese short-term visit pass holder entered Singapore in February. The passenger, a woman, came through via the airport’s familial ties lane.
In a joint statement, ICA and MOM said “According to checks by the ICA, this Vietnamese national entered Singapore in February 2021 via the familial ties lane, sponsored by a Singapore citizen who is her boyfriend.”
Familial ties lane
Familial ties lanes allow the entry of foreigners having “intimate ties” in Singapore. Travelers are eligible to use the familial ties lane if they meet certain criteria. The traveler must have an immediate family member, a fiancée or fiancé, holding Singaporean citizenship or permanent resident status. Also, the traveler can hold a valid work pass or a student pass. There are also other categories for eligibility to use the familial ties lane in Singapore.
On Friday, the authorities said the Vietnamese woman was among short-term visit pass holders linked to the cluster. The short-term visit pass holders had their passes extended.
An “index case” is the first reported case in a cluster. Authorities detected the KTV cluster index case when the Vietnamese woman had acute respiratory infection symptoms. The woman visited a general practitioner clinic on Jul 11th. She was taken to a hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. The Health Ministry’s director of medical services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, released this information on Wednesday.
Woman frequented many KTV outlets
Authorities discovered that the woman had frequented many KTV outlets. From that point, they immediately started conducting epidemiological investigations and contact tracing.
Associate Professor Mak said some of the COVID-19 cases in the KTV cluster lived with the woman in the same household.
COVID-19 cases linked to the KTV cluster
Singaporean authorities provided details of some of the 54 COVID-19 cases linked to the cluster as of Wednesday. Non-Singaporeans accounted for 30 of the 54 cases.
The breakdown of the 30 non-Singaporean cases is as follows. One holds a student’s pass, 14 hold work passes, five hold long-term visit passes, and two are permanent residents. The remaining eight, which included the Vietnamese woman, were on short-term visit passes.
The joint statement said 25 of the 30 non-Singaporeans entered Singapore before the start of 2021.
Singapore’s border entry measures
Singapore imposed strict border entry measures on Mar 21st 2020. Two of the short-term visit pass holders entered the country before the imposition date.
In late 2020, another two entered Singapore via the air travel pass. This pass enables foreigners from specific countries and regions to enter Singapore. The pass also includes official and business travelers. Between Oct 8th 2020, and Feb 13th 2021, this travel lane was available to visitors travelling from Vietnam to Singapore.
This year, the remaining four short-term visit pass holders entered Singapore via the familial ties lane. This includes the Vietnamese woman who became the index case.
ICA and MOM said through extension of their visit passes, all eight short-term visit pass holders remained in Singapore.
The authorities said “During this pandemic, ICA has been assessing applications to extend short-term visit passes on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration extenuating reasons, such as international travel restrictions and flight availability, and whether the applicants have family ties in Singapore.”
“For example, Vietnamese nationals can only return to Vietnam through relief flights arranged by the Vietnamese authorities.”
Short-term pass holders not allowed to work
According to Singapore’s law, short-term pass holders cannot engage in any form of employment, either voluntarily or for money. Those who break this law are liable to have their visit pass cancelled. Also, they can face legal action. Such offenders will be face deportation to their country of origin. Also, Singapore will not allow them re-entry, according to MOM and ICA.
According to the statement, all MOM-issued pass holders entered Singapore before the imposition of the border entry measures on Mar 21st last year.
Singapore’s introduction of border entry measures is to manage COVID-19 transmission and importation risks.
KTV cluster grows
As a result of the contact tracing and investigations, the number of infections linked to the KTV cluster stands at 88 now.
16th July 2021 23:00
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