KTV lounge linked to Vietnamese social hostess Covid-19 cluster undergoes deep cleaning

Cleaning staff at the common area outside Empress KTV at Tanglin Shopping Centre on July 13, 2021. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
Club Dolce is one of three KTV lounges with workers targeted for special testing operations. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Deep cleaning was under way at one of three KTV lounges on Tuesday (July 13), after staff were called up for special testing operations.

The KTV lounges are linked to an emerging cluster involving several Vietnamese social hostesses.

Mr Darren Peh, the owner of Club Dolce at Balestier Point, told The Straits Times on Tuesday evening: "We are carrying out disinfection works today and we have decided to remain closed until all the workers are confirmed to be negative for Covid-19. We want all our customers to feel safe and comfortable when they visit us."

Mr Peh, who took over ownership of Club Dolce about two years ago, had earlier said that his club will continue with its normal operations.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) is investigating Covid-19 infections among a group of Vietnamese social hostesses who had frequented KTV lounges or clubs now operating as food and beverage outlets.

The ministry on Tuesday said that of the 19 new cases of locally transmitted infections it has confirmed, eight belong to the emerging KTV cluster.

Balestier Point is a mixed-use development with both retail outlets and residential units.

Shopkeepers and residents there said they had noticed the KTV lounge reopening to customers two weeks ago. A notice at the entrance to the lounge indicated that renovation works had been carried out between June 4 and July 1.

Mr Eric Tan, the managing agent for Balestier Point, said he is concerned for the health of the building's tenants and residents. The 71-year-old told ST he has asked the building's cleaners to thoroughly wipe down and disinfect common touch-points, such as railings, lift buttons and door handles.

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However, a shopkeeper who declined to be named said she is not worried about potential cases arising from the KTV outlet because she is fully vaccinated and she follows safe distancing measures.

The other two KTV outlets identified by MOH are Supreme KTV at Far East Shopping Centre and Empress KTV at Tanglin Shopping Centre. The doors to both were closed when ST visited on Tuesday afternoon.

The KTV lounges bore similar notices at the door, and appear to be staffed by the same people, shopkeepers said.

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Shopkeepers at Far East Shopping Centre said most shops at the mall are closed by 8pm daily, but Supreme KTV was among several businesses known to operate till late.

They said women who appeared to be lounge hostesses would often turn up at around 6pm.

They would enter the KTV lounge at the basement, where another entrance is located, without going through the mall.

Elderly shopkeepers who spoke to ST on condition of anonymity said they are worried after hearing news of the cluster linked to hostesses, and will take the Covid-19 test if requested by MOH.

They added that they are vaccinated but will monitor their health more closely.

Shopkeepers at Far East Shopping Centre said Supreme KTV was among several businesses known to operate till late. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Shopkeepers at Tanglin Shopping Centre said Empress KTV had resumed operations only on July 1, after renovation works were carried out.

The KTV lounge sits next to enrichment centre Math Vision, whose head of department, Mr Vinayak More, spoke to ST. The 42-year-old said he has seen young women turning up at the KTV in the late afternoons.

"The KTV was closed for a long time, and only very recently restarted its operations," he added.

"We would see young women come, dressed in short skirts. There are safe distancing ambassadors that come here about four times daily, but because the KTV opens later in the evening, there are no ambassadors around by then."

He added that his staff have been told to remain vigilant and the centre has been disinfecting their common areas regularly.

A manager of a restaurant in the mall said the KTV does not have a kitchen, and had been ordering food to be delivered there ever since they reopened at the start of the month.

He said his staff would sometimes enter the KTV and leave the food at the reception, but would not enter the premises.

"I know that the women working there also work at the other KTV at Far East Shopping Centre, because I've seen the same group of them there when I go past on the way home," he said.

"They'll all be mingling in groups, and I think they are a mix of Vietnamese and Thai nationals."

He added that all his staff intend to get swabbed as soon as possible, as they had shared common spaces such as the toilets and corridors with those from the KTV.

Deep cleaning operations at Tanglin Shopping Centre started at 4.30pm on Tuesday, with cleaning staff donning full protective gear.

Shopkeepers at Tanglin Shopping Centre said Empress KTV resumed operations only on July 1, after renovation works. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

The areas that were cleaned, which included the corridor outside Empress KTV and the toilets on the 4th floor, were cordoned off until about 5pm.

The cleaning staff only deep cleaned the mall areas, and did not enter the Empress KTV premises.

Staff of other units on the floor had been asked to vacate their premises temporarily until the completion of cleaning operations.

Meanwhile, MOH is encouraging members of the public who had visited the three premises, similar KTV lounges or clubs operating as food and beverage establishments, or had interactions with Vietnamese social hostesses in any setting between June 29 to July 12 to get tested for Covid-19.

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