Covid-19: The Race To 172

All images from RICE file photos

We were on track to a further opening-up of society, with a possible increase in group size from five to eight at the end of the month. Everyone was optimistic. F&B operators were rejoicing and making plans to accommodate a bigger dining-in crowd. The end of this pandemic seems to be coming to an end and, is that light at the end of the tunnel, we see? 

Then on July 11, the first positive case of what is now known as the “KTV cluster” was detected. By July 18, we had a total of 92 cases, including 88 community cases. Of the 88 cases, 23 cases belonged to the KTV cluster, while 37 were linked to the Jurong Fishery Port cluster.

If there’s a single sentence to summarise the mess we’re now in, this would be it: Horny KTV uncles screw an entire country at once. 

Here is a chronology of events over the last 9 days. 

Day 1: July 11

Total number of new cases: 8
Cases arising from the cluster: 1

  • A Vietnamese hostess tested positive for Covid-19. Checks by contact tracers reveal that she had visited numerous KTV outlets.

Day 2: July 12

Total number of new cases: 26
Cases arising from the cluster: 4

“All visitors to these premises and similar settings and those who had interacted with
Vietnamese social hostesses are advised to monitor their health closely,
and minimise social interactions as far as possible, for 14 days from
their date of visit or interaction.”

– Ministry of Health

1. MOH announces the KTV cluster and said it will conduct testing for staff at Supreme KTV (Far East Shopping Centre), Empress KTV (Tanglin Shopping Centre) and Club Dolce (Balestier Point).

2. Free testing is extended to those who visited those places or similar KTV outlets operating as F&B outlets, or interacted with Vietnamese social hostesses in any setting between June 29 and July 12.

Day 3: July 13

Total number of new cases: 26
Cases arising from the cluster: 12

“The KTV was closed for a long time, and only very recently restarted its operations.
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.” 

– Mr Vinayak More, a staff at enrichment centre Math Vision, next to Empress KTV

1. Club Dolce and parts of Tanglin Shopping Centre undergoes deep cleaning of their premises

2. MOH links Wu Bistro at Golden Mile Complex and Club De Zara at Textile Centre to the KTV cluster

3. 20 women were arrested for suspected involvement in vice-related activities at three KTV lounges

Day 4: July 14

Total number of new cases: 60
Cases arising from the cluster: 54

“Contact tracing is much harder in such settings as patrons will be unwilling to come forward
to admit they have been to such locations, even if it is purportedly for meals.
The alleged hostesses are also unlikely to volunteer information
about the people they have been in contact with.” 

– Prof. Teo Yik Ying, Dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health

Day 5: July 15

Total number of new cases: 48
Cases arising from the cluster: 88

“I know many are feeling disappointed and frustrated about the recent Covid-19 cases at KTVs.
I feel the same. Cases like these demonstrate how, in times of crisis, personal responsibility matters.
No man is an island.
The choices we make for ourselves are the choices we make for our community.” 

– Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, in a Facebook post

1. Nine family-style karaoke businesses, which includes Teo Heng, come together to petition the authorities to give them a separate classification from businesses such as the lounges that are linked to the KTV cluster.

2. Block 75 Lorong 5 Toa Payoh food centre undergoes deep cleaning after a hawker who allegedly visited a KTV lounge over the weekend tested positive for Covid-19.

Day 6: July 16

Total number of new cases: 61
KTV cluster: 120

“Some patrons had planned a ‘last hurrah’ on Wednesday evening (July 14),
after finding out that their favourite haunts were to be closed for deep cleaning.”

– The Straits Times

1. The multi-ministry task force holds a press conference and tightens Covid-19 measures, which includes shrinking group sizes for dining-in from five to two. 

2. The government offers a 10 per cent Jobs Support Scheme funding for affected sectors extended from July 26 to August 8. 

3. Nightlife establishments that pivoted to selling food and drinks are shut till July 30. 

4. MOH uses “four-ring approach” to contain the KTV cluster

5. 29 women of various nationalities were arrested following an islandwide raid by the police on 27 KTV lounges operating as F&B outlets. Of the 29, 10 will have their passes cancelled and deported.

Jurong Fishery Port cluster: 7

“MOH is investigating cases of COVID-19 infection amongst individuals who worked in
or visited Hong Lim Market & Food Centre and Jurong Fishery Port.
To break the chain of transmission and enable deep cleaning of the premises,
Hong Lim Market & Food Centre and Jurong Fishery Port will be closed
to all members of the public from 17 July to 31 July 2021.” 

– Ministry of Health

All who worked at the Jurong Fishery Port between 3 July to 16 July were quarantined. Visitors to the Port during that period were tested.

Day 7: July 17

Total number of new cases: 68
KTV cluster: 148

“I see (the latest cluster) as a bunch of bad apples in a whole basket of good apples…
and it is something that we have to take strong, serious action against.”
– Singapore Nightlife Business Association president, Joseph Ong

1. MOH adds six more outlets to the cluster: Quinn KTV at Syed Alwi Road, Club AURA at Orchard Road, Club Ion at Bukit Timah Road, Icon II at Selegie Road, Club Lucky Thai at Beach Road and M. Sakhon at Beach Road.

2. In a police raid, 39 patrons were found socialising in illegal entertainment outlets.

Jurong Fishery Port cluster: 19

“There were a lot of calls in the morning; everyone was very kancheong (anxious in Cantonese).
Most of our customer base is Malay and this will impact the Hari Raya celebrations.”

– Ms Rachel Chia of Guang’s Fresh Mart in Geylang Serai market, in an interview with The Straits Times

Jurong Fishery Port closes for two weeks, till July 31. All fishmongers are to be tested for Covid-19.

Day 8: July 18

Total number of new cases: 92
KTV cluster: 173

“All of us have to do our part to keep Singapore safe and get us to the new normal.
The recent large clusters from the KTV lounges and Jurong Fishery Port
remind us why we must all get vaccinated, especially our seniors who can get seriously ill if infected.”

– Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a Facebook post

1. Schools reduce capacity for co-curricular activities, with group sizes shrinking from five to two.

2. MOH adds four more outlets to the KTV cluster: Maze Club at 2, Aliwal Street, China Doll at 1, Sophia Road, Club Myth at 1, Coleman Street and Martell W KTV Chivas at 6, Foch Road.

Jurong Fishery Port cluster: 63

“We don’t expect disruptions, we don’t expect our shops to run out of seafood. There will be enough.
If Singaporeans can broaden their choices, I’m sure everybody can find the seafood they want to consume.
So we ask everybody to remain calm; we have enough seafood for everyone.” 

– Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, Grace Fu

1. Over 20 markets to implement Safe-entry check-in from July 19 onwards.

2. MOH advises unvaccinated senior citizens to stay home as much as possible.

3. Fishmongers across Singapore close their stalls; to reopen only if they are tested negative for Covid-19.

Day 9: July 19

Total number of new cases: 172
KTV cluster: 19
Jurong Fishery Port cluster: 106

“It is very important that those who are unvaccinated, especially the elderly,
stay home as much as possible. Even for the vaccinated, if you have an
unvaccinated senior at home, try to minimise your movement and
social interactions too, as you may inadvertently bring the virus home and harm the senior.” 

– Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in a Facebook post

Scientists from the Health Ministry confirmed a link between the KTV and Jurong Fishery Port clusters, says Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung.

Could the KTV and Jurong fishery port clusters be prevented? Tell us about it at

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