Karaoke crooners raise virus red flag

Local | 31 Mar 2020 6:00 pm

Health officials said today that five people out of a group of seven who went to karaoke together last week have been diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, raising further questions as to whether such venues should be shut down alongside others ordered to close under new social distancing rules, RTHK reports.
At a regular news briefing, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said the group had visited the Tsim Sha Tsui branch of Red MR last Tuesday.
One fell sick the same day and was confirmed to be infected with the virus on Monday, while the results of tests on four of the others have also now come back positive.
The remaining two people in the group are being placed in quarantine, officials said.
Chuang said it is likely the five had infected each other during their karaoke session and officials will look into whether any staff or other customers came into close contact with the group. But, she said she believed the possibility of them having spread the virus further at the venue was not high, since they all stayed in one room.
The government ordered the closure of many entertainment venues, like cinemas and gyms, for 14 days from March 28, to help prevent the spread of the virus in the community.
Karaokes were spared. But since they hold a catering licence, they were told to follow rules for restaurants and bars on separating customers.

Since March 29, there has also been a four-person limit on gatherings in most public places, indoors or outdoors.
Asked if the government needs to close karaokes in light of the cluster of infections, Chuang said she believed the government would take that outbreak into consideration.
"I think now we have the social distancing measures, people should try to avoid this type of activity. As when you sing, you won't wear a mask and usually you may have some drinks and very close contact," she said.
Officials reported a total of 32 new virus cases today. Of these, 24 patients had recently traveled outside Hong Kong. The new infections brought the SAR's total tally so far to 714.


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