askST: What is the risk of transmission of Covid-19 to the hair or nail salon?, Singapore News & Top Stories
SINGAPORE – Two more cases of Covid-19 were linked to a hairdressing salon in Bedok on Monday, June 7, bringing the total linked to the Atatcutz Singapore cluster to eight. The cluster was announced last Saturday.
The first case detected in the cluster was a 26-year-old Malaysian who works as a delivery boy for Pizza Hut in Hougang Green. His infection was confirmed on June 1.
Four barbers at the Bedok store were infected, including one who works part-time.
The remaining four cases are either close contacts or live in the same household as the barbers.
Of those in the cluster so far, at least one person has reportedly been a customer of the store.
The Straits Times answers questions about the risk of infections at hairdressers and other places where personal services are provided, such as nail salons.
Q: What is the risk of getting infected from my hairdresser?
A: Experts previously told the Straits Times that the risk of transmission indoors is much higher than outdoors, especially if ventilation is lacking and people are nearby.
Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, associate dean of global health at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore, said the risk to customers and service providers in massage stores, hair and nail salons probably sits between that of restaurants and other retailers.
For example, many hair salons and stores are small, fairly cramped spaces with relatively little air exchange.
âCustomers will need to stay in this space for at least 10 minutes and usually much longer. Most hairdressers are in much closer contact with customers compared to other store owners or assistants,â he said.
Q: What precautions are in place?
A: According to the latest guidelines issued by the authorities, for hairdressing services, all capes and towels must be changed after each service.
All hairdressing equipment, such as scissors, combs and brushes, should be disinfected and disinfected after use by each client.
For beauty services in general, the guidelines state that not all operators should serve food and drink to customers and should remove shared items such as magazines and newspapers.
Employees should disinfect their hands before and after each client’s treatment. Masks must be worn by customers and employees at all times.
Services requiring the removal of masks have been prohibited since May 16 in the current heightened alert period until June 13, with the exception of medical or dental services.
Q: What should customers do to stay safe?
A: Avoid going to the hair salon when it is crowded. If possible, make an appointment and do not linger on the premises of the store before and after the hairdressing service.
They can also consider reducing the frequency of visits during this time as much as possible, Professor Hsu said, and minimize discussions with the barber and other clients.
Dr Ling Li Min, an infectious disease doctor at the Rophi Clinic, suggested that the long sessions could be split into two separate sessions.
Staff and customers must keep their masks on at all times, she added.
“Clients should bring spare masks as they can easily get wet or dirty during the session.”
The Department of Health has advised wearing masks with a bacterial filtration efficiency of at least 95%.
Hair salons should try to ensure good ventilation where possible, for example by keeping doors open, Dr Ling said.