Earlier lockdown ‘would likely have saved’ bus drivers

Earlier lockdown 'would likely have saved' bus drivers

Bus driver with face mask

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The review found bus drivers died at 3.5 times the rate of other occupations

An earlier lockdown would “likely have saved” the lives of London bus drivers who died with coronavirus, according to a study.

University College London (UCL) was asked by Transport for London (TfL) to investigate the high death rate of London bus workers.

Thirty-four London bus workers died with Covid-19, including 29 drivers – 3.5 times the rate of other roles.

An earlier lockdown “would likely have saved more lives,” the report found.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who led the study, said: “Our review explicitly suggests that lockdown was the main factor that saved bus drivers’ lives.

“Because London was an early centre of the pandemic, it is likely that the increased risk among London bus drivers is associated with exposure.”

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PA Media

Image caption

It is compulsory to wear a face covering while travelling on public transport in England

The report was commissioned by TfL amid major concerns over the deaths of bus drivers in the capital.

Strict guidelines limiting people’s movements to tackle the spread of coronavirus were introduced on 23 March.

Since 15 June it has been compulsory to wear a face covering while travelling on public transport in England.

The mortality rate in male London bus drivers aged 20-64 was 3.5 times higher than men of the same age in all occupations in England and Wales.

UCL’s Institute of Health Equity found drivers were at risk because of their job. Many also had underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure.

‘Roadmap for action’

The report found bus workers were more likely to live in the boroughs hardest hit by the virus, and to be from black and ethnic minority groups, which “are more at risk of becoming severely ill and dying from COVID-19”.

The second part of the review will explore the differences in infection and death rates between frontline transport workers and London’s population in general.

Lilli Matson, TfL’s head of health and environment, said: “We have been devastated by the tragic deaths of our colleagues during this pandemic.

“The recommendations in this report provide a roadmap for action to further protect bus drivers.

“It is clear from this piece of work and others that there are certain characteristics that make people more vulnerable to coronavirus.”

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