Hair salons should be closed after the death of a COVID-19 infected Mississippi barber, Eugene Thompson

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 11th April 2020 – (Hong Kong) A popular Mississippi barber, Eugene Thompson, 46 has died from COVID-19 (coronavirus) after continuing to accept clients amid the ongoing pandemic. He passed away at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, this past Saturday (4th April), less than a month after testing positive for the COVID- 19. Thompson, who owned barbershops Taper Nation and Taper Nation 2 first posted that he contracted the virus on 22nd March before he closed down his business.

“Quarantine yourself stay away from people…places.. or things…I felt a little [achy]… fever was a little high so I came to get checked,” Thompson wrote at the time. “Tapernation will be closed for the rest of the week…well deserved rest and relaxation..”

He couldn’t get up and walk to the car, not walk around the house cause he couldn’t do that anyway,” sister Dedra Edwards told a local outlet. “At 12:22 p.m. the nurse practitioner in the ICU at St. Dominic called me and said his heart stopped and we couldn’t revive him.”

Meanwhile in Malaysia, the public and hairdressers have been advised to take preventive measures against COVID-19 transmission when visiting hair salons and barbershops, which have been allowed to operate under the third phase of the movement control order (MCO), Bernama news agency reported. It said there was a high risk of spreading infection between barbers or hairstylists and their customers as they would be in close proximity with one another. Moreover, they would be in the same enclosed space for an extended period of time with limited space and ventilation, it said.

The Malaysian Hairdressing Association (MHA) responded today and said that 91% of its members did not agree to resume their businesses during the movement control order (MCO) period, citing safety issues, among others. It further said that “it is impossible to maintain a distance of one metre during haircutting. Both the customer and the hairdresser are in a state of being easily infected by the virus, haircut should not be listed as a necessary essential service, no matter long hair or short hair, the most important thing for now is to stay alive. The purpose of the movement control order is to save people’s lives, not their appearance.”

Nevertheless, the Hong Kong government has not imposed a ban on hair salons even though they have extended the ban under Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (The Regulation) (Cap. 599F) until 23rd April, 2020 to include beauty and massage parlours. The hair loss improvement services, such as hair transplanting and hair weaving also fell into the category controlled by this regulation but strangely they still left out hair salons. The Hong Kong government explained on the Facebook page that any procedure involving administration of chemical or energy delivered to any part of the body (except hair) for cosmetic purposes, including non-medical purposes and cosmetic procedures involving skin piercing needed to be closed for 14 days.

The tools hairdressers use may not be sanitised after each usage. Most hairdressers do not disinfect their scissors and other tools immediately after each customer as the case is similar in beauty and nail salons. Hairdressers also use chemicals when dyeing hair of customers.

MOMO salon

On 18th February, Yvonne Chow, a COVID-19 infected patient went for a haircut at MOMO salon located at The Park Lane Hong Kong in Causeway Bay. She stayed there for 1-2 hours and the staff started home quarantine for 14 days. The hair salon was closed for business for 3 days to commence disinfection. Despite the fact that the employees at the hair salon were not infected, it does not mean that they won’t be infected in the near future.

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