SINGAPORE — The first COVID-19 case linked to the growing KTV cluster is a short-term visit pass holder from Vietnam, said the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on Friday (16 July).
In a joint release with the Manpower Ministry (MOM), it said that "the Vietnamese national entered Singapore in February 2021 via the Familial Ties Lane, sponsored by a Singapore Citizen who is her boyfriend".
Short-term visitors cannot engage in any form of employment (paid or unpaid), 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 deported and be barred from re-entering Singapore," the ICA said.
The KTV cluster is now linked to 88 cases, making it the second-biggest active cluster here after 115 Bukit Merah View market, which is linked to 94 infections. There are 25 active COVID-19 clusters here.
Currently, the police are investigating possible illegal, including vice-related activities within the KTV cluster.
"If the investigations show any criminal offence on the part of these foreigners, ICA and MOM will take firm action against them, including cancelling their work pass, student’s pass or visit pass, and deport them," the authorities said in the joint statement said.
Employers who illegally employ these pass holders, or abet these pass holders in illegal employment will also face enforcement actions, such as a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $30,000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both. Their work pass privileges may also be suspended.
30 of 54 KTV cluster cases are foreigners
Among the 54 cases announced on Thursday, 30 are non-Singaporeans, the ICA said.
When they entered Singapore, two were Singapore permanent residents, 14 were work pass holders, one was a student’s pass holder, five were long-term visit pass holders and eight were short-term visit pass holders.
A total of 25 out of these 30 foreigners entered Singapore before 2021.
Of the eight short-term visit pass holders, two had entered Singapore before the imposition of border entry measures last year, on 21 March 2020, the authorities said. Another two had entered Singapore in late-2020 via the Air Travel Pass, which enables foreigners (including business and official travellers) from specific countries/regions, including Vietnam, to seek entry into Singapore. This travel lane was available to visitors travelling from Vietnam to Singapore between 8 October 2020 and 13 February 2021.
The remaining four entered Singapore in 2021 via the Familial Ties Lane, which facilitates the entry of foreigners with intimate ties in Singapore.
These eight short-term visit pass holders have remained in Singapore through extension of their short-term visit pass. "During this pandemic, ICA has been assessing applications to extend short-term visit passes on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration extenuating reasons, such as international travel restrictions and flight availability, and whether the applicants have family ties in Singapore. For example, Vietnamese nationals can only return to Vietnam through relief flights arranged by the Vietnamese authorities," the authorities said.
All the MOM-issued pass holders entered Singapore before the imposition of border entry measures last year, on 21 March 2020. This was when entry approvals were introduced to manage COVID-19 importation and transmission risks.
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