COVID-19 Risk Management Guidance


How does science help us resume singing together?

At its simplest, scientific research is defined as a systematic inquiry into a phenomenon for the purpose of establishing knowledge. 

It differs from public health advice, law and regulation which, in this context, aim to prevent the spread of a disease or promote healthy practices within a population.

The technical concept of validity within a research project is important because public health actions based on the evidence produced by scientific research will affect the whole population. 

Study validity can be defined as the extent to which the findings of scientific research will be true in similar populations outside the study. The design and implementation of a research study ideally should maximise validity[2]. Therefore conducting scientific research can take time, sometimes years. 

And as an added complication, repetition of experiments (reliability) is required to be confident of knowledge claims (evidence) that might underpin public health action [3].

[2] Rychetnik, L, Hawe, P, Waters, E, Barratt, A & Frommer, M 2004, 'A glossary for evidence based public health.', J Epidemiol Community Health, vol. 58, pp. 538-545.

[3] ibid

In contrast to the role of science, public health action to protect populations in the context of a pandemic has to be taken very quickly and within the socio-political culture of a community. 

Public health law and regulation are designed to empower public health officials to take quick action to protect the population. 

Public health advice is given in a way that promotes action from community members in the best interests of the whole population. 

In the case of COVID-19, it has been necessary to respond effectively to outbreaks within days of the first reported case. Initially, public health actions are based on the best available evidence, which in the case of COVID-19 has been the previous outbreaks of corona viruses, for example, MERS and SARS-CoV-1.

Public health action in a pandemic must be taken quickly to protect the community in the context of very little evidence. But it is likely to take years to build the scientific evidence base around a pandemic such as that caused by SARS-CoV-2.

In the literature review undertaken by Rosemary Byron-Scott, the scientific research surrounding singing and COVID-19 is therefore described as emerging and fragmented, meaning there is not yet agreement on the risks of singing and the effectiveness of control measures.

In short, we will eventually know enough to confidently inform changes to advice concerning singing in groups that, while not completely eliminating risk, will provide an acceptable level of risk for choral singing.  In the meantime, we do our best with the information we have.

Produced by the Adelaide Choral Network with financial assistance from Arts South Australia and the City of Adelaide, our Adelaide Year of the Choir Partner


The content of "How Can We Keep From Singing: COVID-19 Risk Management Guidance for South Australian Group Singing" is provided for information purposes only. While care has been taken that the material contained is accurate and up-to-date at the time of publication, the information is provided on the basis that all persons having access to this Guidance will assume responsibility for assessing the relevance, completeness, currency and accuracy of its content and for the application of any information to their own particular circumstances. The subject matter of the report is in a dynamic field of rapidly changing conditions and increasing knowledge. Adelaide Choral Network disclaim any liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on any information contained in it (or any use of such information) which is provided in this Guidance or incorporated into it by reference.

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