Swiss outbreak blamed on yodeling shows that drew 600

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Swiss yodelers perform in 2016. (Valeriano di Domenico/AFP/Getty Images)

The Swiss pastime of yodeling appears to have led to a major coronavirus cluster in the country, potentially providing more evidence to back up concerns that singing heightens the risk of virus transmission.

Roughly 600 people attended two indoor yodeling shows in late September in the rural canton of Schwyz, according to Agence France-Presse. Social distancing was required, although masks were not.

Several of the yodelers later tested positive for the coronavirus, organizer Beat Hegner told Swiss broadcaster RTS.

While it’s unclear exactly how many cases are linked to the events, infections have surged in Schwyz in recent weeks. Until mid-September, only about 500 people in the canton had tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, AFP reported. That number has more than doubled over the past four weeks.

Many public health experts believe that singers have a high risk of spreading the coronavirus because they tend to emit large volumes of aerosols. In the United States, a March choir practice in Washington state became a “superspreading event” that infected dozens of participants.

In Schwyz, hospital officials have asked residents to wear masks and avoid large gatherings, saying that the number of people hospitalized with serious symptoms is growing rapidly and that the health-care system will be overwhelmed if the current surge continues.

New regulations authorized Monday require masks at gatherings of more than 50 people and in other public settings where social distancing is not possible.

The Washington Post

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