There is a new and growing COVID-19 cluster emerging from KTV lounges in Singapore. The country’s Minister of Trade and industry, Gan Kim Yong, says such incidents have put a “major setback” in Singapore’s road to recovery from the pandemic.
The KTV cluster stands at 120 cases as of Friday, which is an increase of 32 new infections from Thursday.
Cases expected to rise
Singapore has a COVID-19 multi ministry task force which holds regular press conferences. As co-chair of the task force, Mr Gan spoke at the press conference held on Friday. He said authorities managed to track down some people linked to the KTV cluster. These people subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
“Which means that they may have already infected others before they were isolated. Therefore, we expect the number of cases to rise in the coming days,” he said.
Adding further, Mr Tan said, “Furthermore, some of the close contacts may be within the incubation period and tested negative initially, they may turn positive in time to come, adding to the case count.”
Mr Tan said more contact tracing as well as community testing will be done. Also, the task force will carry out ring fencing for this cluster.
A Vietnamese woman holding a short-term visit pass is the index case of the KTV cluster. Index Case 64693 is the first reported COVID-19 case in the KTV cluster.
The woman developed a fever and acute breathing difficulties on Jul 10th. Subsequently, she went to a Swab and Send Home (SASH) clinic the next day, Jul 11th. After testing positive for COVID-19, the Vietnamese woman was sent to a hospital for further treatment.
Also present at the press conference was Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, Singapore’s Ministry of Health director of medical services. Associate Professor Mak provided some clarifications on the KTV cluster. The Vietnamese woman is the index case, i.e., first case to be detected in the cluster. However, this does not necessarily mean she is the first case to have been infected. Also, being the index case does not mean she directly contributed towards the entire rising cluster of cases.
Associate Professor Mak said, “She has been in Singapore for a while and it is extremely likely that the seeding of the cluster arose as a result of an initial community spread.”
Ongoing tracing and testing lead to an increase in cases
Tracing is still ongoing to find the source and mode of transmission linked to this cluster, said Mak. Testing is being carried out in several locations, leading to the increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases over the last few days.
Tracing of first 88 KTV cluster cases
Thirty seven out of the first 88 KTV cluster cases were detected, when they turned up at SASH clinics for screening. All 37 cases were symptomatic.
Authorities arranged special community testing for people who visited nightclubs, KTV outlets, and came into close contact with the hostesses. The special testing detected 30 cases.
The last 21 cases were in quarantine when they were detected.
To make matters worse, most of the KTV cluster cases visited multiple KTV clubs. The cases visited several KTV outlets on the same day, or on several days during the infectious period. Their movements was revealed from epidemiological investigations, said Associate Professor Mak.
Mak said, “Some of the individuals who visited multiple KTV outlets, particularly on the same day, were visitor pass holders. We cannot exclude the possibility that many of them … were social hostesses”.
Hostesses were from various nationalities
KTV clubs and outlets normally have a very cosmopolitan atmosphere. This is due to the fact that their hostesses come from various countries, including the Philippines, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Also, there are other foreign workers working in these establishments, who perform multiple roles, according to Associate Professor Mak.
Local residents are also linked to the KTV cluster
Singaporean residents who regularly patronize KTV outlets and clubs make up another group of cases linked to the cluster. It is most likely that all present had close contact and considerable mask-off interactions, allowing easy spread of the virus.
Associate Professor Mak said, “It’s likely that there’s been considerable mask-off, close contact interactions, which have taken place within these premises, which has allowed infections (to) spread”.
Family members make up yet another group of cases linked to the residents. According to Associate Professor Mak, this is an indication of the beginning of household transmission.
17th July 2021 23:00
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