SINGAPORE - The KTV cluster of Covid-19 infections here could be seeded by an initial community spread, said Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak.
The first detected case in the growing cluster, a Vietnamese woman, may not be the first infected case, he said on Friday (July 16).
The multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 said that the Vietnamese woman is still being isolated even as the KTV cluster ballooned to a total of 120 cases as at Friday.
"The mode of specific transmission is still unknown," Associate Professor Mak said.
The Vietnamese woman is a short-term visit pass holder who entered Singapore in February via the familial ties lane, sponsored by her Singaporean boyfriend. At the time, Vietnam was a low-risk country, and Singapore had unilateral opening of borders to Vietnamese travellers.
These visit passes were typically for family reasons. Those entering Singapore were tested and it was clear that they did not bring in the virus, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force.
In view of evolving border control measures, and as part of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's regular reviews on the requirements and application processes for travellers seeking entry into Singapore, the "boyfriend/girlfriend of Singapore citizen/permanent resident" category was removed in March this year.
The Vietnamese woman went to a general practitioner clinic on July 11 with symptoms of acute respiratory infection. She was then found to be positive for Covid-19 infection and was immediately admitted to hospital.
Contact tracing and investigations later showed that the woman had frequented many KTV outlets.
"We are all very disappointed with the latest setback in the flare-up of cases," said Mr Wong.
He also said that action will taken against any illegal moonlighting. Action will also be taken against local sponsors of these passes if they did not give accurate information to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.
Under the law, short-term visitors cannot engage in any form of employment, or in any business, profession or occupation in Singapore. Those who are found to have broken this law are liable to be prosecuted or have their visit pass cancelled, and be deported and barred from re-entering Singapore.
Employers who employ these pass holders illegally, or abet them in illegal employment, will also face enforcement action such as a fine of up to $30,000, or up to 12 months' imprisonment, or both. Their work pass privileges may also be suspended.