The Science Behind Why Singing Could Spread Coronavirus

Natasha Hinde

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Singing is off limits under the new government guidance for coronavirus-safe weddings. So why is it such a problem?

It’s thought that belting out a few tunes could spread the virus because when you sing, you expel droplets and aerosols from your nose and mouth. The virus can hitch a ride on these droplets, landing on nearby surfaces or infecting people in close proximity who breathe in smaller, infected droplets.

We also expel these droplets when we sneeze, cough, talk and breathe. But with singing, the volume of our voice tends to be louder and it’s been suggested we end up expelling more droplets as a result.

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A previous study investigating the role of singing in the spread of tuberculosis found the percentage of particles generated by singing is six times more than that emitted during normal talking. 

It’s also been suggested droplets can travel further during singing – if you’re belting out a power ballad, you’re likely to be spreading droplets that travel further than six feet (or two metres).

But whether these particles will then go on to successfully infect others is debatable, as they can disperse in the air or drop quickly to the ground. It’s thought there’s a low risk of infection via aerosols for the average person.

That said, there have been various “super spreader” events involving choirs. In one choir practice in March – lasting 2.5 hours – 32 people (of 61 in total) ended up with confirmed Covid-19, and 20 had “probable” cases. Three patients were hospitalised and two died. Researchers said transmission of the virus was likely facilitated by close proximity during practice and augmented by the act of...

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