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Taxi drivers and care workers among jobs with highest rates of coronavirus deaths

PUBLISHED: 19:00 17 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:33 18 May 2020

Taxi drivers are one of the jobs at higher risk of coronavirus, new figures show. Picture: JONATHAN BRADY/PA

Taxi drivers are one of the jobs at higher risk of coronavirus, new figures show. Picture: JONATHAN BRADY/PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Taxi drivers and security guards are among the occupations for men with the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths, according to new figures.

Male chefs are one of the jobs at higher risk Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoMale chefs are one of the jobs at higher risk Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Care workers and home carers are also jobs with higher rates of deaths for both women and men.

The new figures, which point to a link between higher rates and lower-paid jobs, were released by the Office for National Statistics this week. They look at the deaths by occupation in England and Wales, for those registered up to and including April 20.

A total of 2,494 deaths were registered over the period, with almost two-thirds being men. The rate of Covid-19-related deaths sits at 9.9 per 100,000 deaths in men, compared to 5.2 for women.

Jobs with elevated rates for men included male security guards, who had one of the highest rates, at 45.7 deaths per 100,000, as well as taxi drivers and chauffeurs (36.4), bus and coach drivers (26.4) and chefs (35.9).

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For women, only one major occupational group had a statistically higher mortality rate for deaths involving Covid-19 than the general population- caring, leisure and other service occupations. The majority were care workers.

The data shows a higher death rate for social care workers among both men and women, with a rate of 23.4 for men (compared to 9.9 in the general population) and 9.6 for women (compared to 5.2).

There has been widespread concern over lack of PPF for carers, and the Sudbury-based Sue Ryder charity, which has a specialist centre in Ipswich, has been at the forefront of campaigning for greater supplies.

The charity has asked supporters to email their MP asking for guaranteed supplies of PPE to the hospice and social care sector, and its chief executive, Heidi Travis, said this month in a letter to Care Minister Helen Whatley: “As you have recognised, the social care sector including hospices is vital in supporting the country and the NHS in fighting coronavirus.

“However, we can only do this if we have sufficient PPE to protect our hard working and dedicated staff, and to prevent infection amongst the vulnerable people we care for.”

READ MORE - Care agency helps to ease pressure on frontline NHS staff

Angel Clark is founder and director of Suffolk home care company 1 Oak Home Care, based in Acton, Sudbury, which has helped to ease the PPE pressure on frontline NHS and social carers by producing special headbands, which ease the strain of facemasks.

Mrs Clark sourced supplies of PPE in Bali while on her honeymoon just before lockdown, and said it was very important to have the right PPE and safety procedures in place for staff. “I speak to my staff daily and they feel safe, because they have the right protection. We have not had any cases of coronavirus,” she said.

The union Unite has called for an inquiry into the handling of the pandemic, looking into why lower-paid workers, many from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background, have been at a greater risk of dying.

Miles Hubbard, regional officer for the eastern region, said: “The inquiry needs to include an investigation into whether the lockdown was introduced too late, whether it was possible for frontline workers to be able to socially distance at work, if effective cleaning regimes were in place and if workers were provided with the necessary PPE to properly protect them.”

“In the meantime, every workplace needs to look at these figures and immediately reassess how more effective measures can be implemented to protect those who have continued to work or are returning to their jobs.”

Sam Leigh, eastern regional manager for Unison, said it was the lowest paid bearing the brunt of the crisis, with health and social care among the hardest hit.

“Care staff are literally putting their life on the line to look after some of society’s most vulnerable people, but are being sent over the top without helmets – unable to get the right protective kit or forced into work because they can’t afford statutory sick pay,” she said.


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