Choir practice in Spain transmits coronavirus to 30 out of 41 members

25 September 2020, 12:20 | Updated: 25 September 2020, 12:55

Gospel choir practice transmits coronavirus to 30 out of 41 members
Gospel choir practice transmits coronavirus to 30 out of 41 members. Picture: Getty

By Rosie Pentreath

A gospel choir has seen over two thirds of its members contract COVID-19 after rehearsing indoors with little ventilation.

A choir in Spain has seen over two thirds of its members contract coronavirus after rehearsing together.

30 out of 41 people attending the River Troupe Gospel rehearsal have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Associated Press.

One member of the non-professional choir tested positive after a rehearsal, which was being held ahead of an outdoor performance due to take place in the town of Sallent near Barcelona. Their rehearsal had taken place indoors and with little ventilation, according to the choir.

Once one member of the choir had tested positive for the virus, the other singers self-isolated and got tested themselves. 30 members have now confirmed they have COVID-19.

Read more: Ballet’s return to stage barred as 30 dancers test positive for COVID-19 >

The choir has said it followed safety measures to make rehearsing ‘COVID-secure’, including temperature testing, hand washing and social-distancing, but admitted to having windows closed to shut out the heat. Apparently the group had switched on air-conditioning as well.

Near the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, it was reported that a choir practice in the US had acted as a ‘super-spreading event’, leaving 52 singers with the virus. And singing has been identified throughout the pandemic as a potential heightened risk factor in transmission, with similar cases being reported and explored in the UK.

Read more: What is the UK government’s guidance for rehearsals, concerts and live music venues? >

However, more recently, scientists working directly with UK government bodies found that singing itself doesn’t pose more risk than talking per se, but that it’s more about the volume that voices – whether talking or singing – are used at.

The scientist co-leading the project, Jonathan Reid, told The Guardian, “Our research has provided a rigorous scientific basis for COVID-19 recommendations for arts venues to operate safely, for both the performers and audience, by ensuring that spaces are appropriately ventilated to reduce the risk of airborne transmission.

“It is not about the vocalisation – whether it’s singing or speaking – it is about the volume. Just by singing a little bit more softly you really reduce the risk.”

Like other European countries, Spain is in a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus, with cases rising significantly. Over 980,000 deaths confirmed with coronavirus have been recorded worldwide.