Karaoke Night Causes COVID-19 Outbreak in Quebec City

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At least 50 new cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a karaoke night which took place on Aug. 23 at Quebec City’s Bar Le Kirouac, according to the Integrated University Health and Social Services Centres (CIUSSS) of La Capitale-Nationale. The bar was subsequently closed for three days and disinfected by management. Read the CBC news story here. Additionally, three new cases in Quebec schools have also been linked to the night of Aug. 23.

“We’re pretty sure that three positive cases, namely children, got the virus from somebody who was celebrating something at this bar,” said Dr. Jacques Girard, who heads the Quebec City public health authority.

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Karaoke nights can be an important source of revenue for bars across the province and, unlike dancing, singing in bars hasn’t been prohibited by Public health officials yet. However, Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s public health director, expressed his concerns about singing and the fact that it spreads airborne droplets more efficiently than other activities.

“The droplets go into the air, and you will get infected,” he said during a news conference in the Lac St-Jean region Wednesday, before suggesting people do such things privately, at home, reducing the risk of infecting strangers.

This isn’t the first time singing has been the cause of a serious outbreak since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. On Feb. 25, 102 out of 130 members of the Amsterdams Gemengd Koor (Amsterdam Mixed Choir) were infected after taking part in a non-distanced rehearsals of the St. Matthew Passion. One chorister, a 78 year old man, died. Three other deaths are implicated.

Last week, hundreds of voice students across Quebec went back to school in order to resume their vocal training. Conservatories and universities have put in place some measures to prevent the spread of the virus, namely by disinfecting classrooms and premises regularly, requiring the use of a face covering while inside faculty buildings, installing plexiglass walls in order to protect teachers from students during one on one lessons and by giving online classes when possible. Earlier this week, Université de Montréal’s voice faculty had a Zoom meeting with Dr. Caroline Quach, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Dept. of Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Infectious Prevention and Control at St. Justine Hospital. She recommended education institutions should be more strict.

She suggested that the use of homemade or cloth masks wasn’t efficient enough. If an N95 mask isn’t available, a 3 ply blue medical mask is the best option and should be worn at all times by teachers and students, including during a singing lesson. According to her, the plexiglass wall does not stop the aerosols from going up, so there are still some that travel over the wall as well as around the sides. Additionally, voice lessons shouldn’t last more than 40 minutes, 20 minutes less than the usual 60.

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


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