On July 12, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that it is investigating cases of Covid-19 infection amongst Vietnamese social hostesses who had frequented KTV lounges or clubs currently operating as F&B outlets.
On July 13, MOH announced that these premises will be be closed to all members of the public for two weeks to break any potential chain of transmission and to enable deep cleaning.
Photos of Vietnamese women circulated online
Within the same day, pictures of at least four Vietnamese women were circulated on messaging platforms, such as WeChat and WhatsApp, singling them out as fresh Covid-19 cases.
The pictures were supposedly meant to inform customers about getting tested for Covid-19 should they have interacted with these women.
But the images were then leaked online together with a message from a KTV lounge manager beseeching customers to get tested for Covid-19 if they had been in close contact with the women.
Lianhe Wanbao got in touch with Meiji (name translated from Chinese), who is in charge of women working in establishments such as KTV lounges.
Meiji, colloquially known as a mama-san, was allegedly in contact with the four social hostesses.
Rotated amongst different KTV lounges
Meiji told the Chinese media that the four women were purportedly infected with Covid-19, but denied that they were amongst the social hostesses that she managed.
She said she got to know the four Vietnamese women at Empress KTV after being transferred to the lounge a week ago.
The four hostesses worked at various KTV lounges, she added.
According to Meiji, the police came to the KTV lounge at 6pm on Sunday, July 11, saying that there is a confirmed Covid-19 case from the lounge.
The KTV lounge was temporarily shut down and all employees were tested for Covid-19, she said.
Meiji told Wanbao that she heard that social hostesses from other nightclubs had circulated the pictures of the four Vietnamese women online.
She added that she is unsure if their actions were motivated by good intentions or the rivalry between social hostesses.
However, Meiji added that she hoped people would stop circulating the pictures as the four women are already suffering from the illness.
Confidential testing process for KTV customers
On July 14, MOH confirmed 56 new cases of locally-transmitted Covid-19 cases, of which 41 belong to the KTV cluster.
At a media doorstop, health minister Ong Ye Kung urged those who had visited KTV lounges or interacted with any hostesses in the past 14 days to get tested.
The first case reported from the cluster is a short-term visitor pass holder from Vietnam who had frequented many KTV outlets.
The patient visited the GP clinic on July 11 with acute respiratory infection symptoms.
"The entire testing process is confidential, and your privacy is protected, so get yourself tested," Ong added.
To make an appointment for a Covid-19 test, click here.
Ong thanked the over 100 people, including staff and customers of the lounges, who had already got themselves tested the day before.
For those who might be uncomfortable to come forward and get tested, Ong urged them to stay at home at the very least, isolate themselves from their family members, test themselves using Antigen Rapid Test (ART) self-test kits, as well as to monitor their health for the next 14 days.
Top images via Club De Zara Facebook page.