At least 215 people have recently tested positive for coronavirus following a daytime karaoke visit as of Tuesday, Japan’s Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said, per Reuters.
Daytime karaoke sessions are reportedly a popular pastime among Japanese seniors. (iStock)
Ninety-three of these cases were reportedly found in the Saga prefecture, an administrative jurisdiction on the island of Kyushu. Ages of these newly infected groups allegedly range between 50 and 80.
Other clusters were found in the Saitama and Chiba prefectures, which are both about an hour’s drive away from Tokyo.
“We realize that under normal circumstances, karaoke is almost a salon for older people to talk and enjoy themselves, but in the current situation of absolutely trying to prevent infection, these (venues) are rather confined,” Nishimura said in a warning he issued Tuesday, March 16, according to Reuters.
He went on to describe that some karaoke venues have rooms that are so narrow it feels like “people are packed in.”
Pictured here is a masked woman walking by a closed karaoke establishment in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza district in April 2020. Many karaoke bars had shuttered operations under former Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s previous state of emergency. (Christopher Jue/Getty Images)
“They have to take thorough steps including putting up acrylic panels, good ventilation and disinfecting the microphones,” Nishimura added.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled activities like singing and shouting as behaviors that put people at an increased risk of infection.
The health agency also recommends wearing protective face masks or covers in addition to maintaining a social distance from people who are from a different household.
Meanwhile, in Japan coronavirus cases have been trending upward since mid-February, according to data from the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard.
More than 449,110 Japanese residents have tested positive for the respiratory virus and nearly 8,700 people have reportedly died from complications associated with COVID-19.
News of Japan’s slight rise in coronavirus cases comes days before government officials make their decision on ending state of emergency orders in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba, reports The Japan Times. A decision will be made on Thursday, March 18.
The country aims to hold the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in the next four months, which were postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.