FRIDAY, Dec. 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Essential workers have an increased risk for severe COVID-19, according to a study published online Dec. 8 in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Miriam Mutambudzi, Ph.D., from the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, and colleagues linked baseline U.K. Biobank data (2006 to 2010) to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) test results from March 16 to July 26, 2020, to examine the risk for severe COVID-19 by occupational group. Risk ratios (RRs) for testing positive in hospital or death due to COVID-19 were examined by three occupational classification schemes.

The researchers found that 271 of the 120,075 participants had severe COVID-19. Health care workers, social and education workers, and other essential workers had an increased risk for severe COVID-19 relative to nonessential workers (RRs, 7.43, 1.84, and 1.60, respectively). Using more detailed groupings, the highest risk within the broader groups was seen for medical support staff, social care workers, and transport workers (RRs, 8.70, 2.46, and 2.20, respectively). Non-White nonessential workers had a higher risk compared with White nonessential workers (RR, 3.27), while the highest risk was seen for non-White essential workers (RR, 8.34). Compared with managers and senior officials, associate professional and technical occupations, personal service occupations, and plant and machine operatives had a higher risk.

“Our findings reinforce the need for adequate health and safety arrangements and provision of personal protective equipment for essential workers, especially in the health and social care sectors,” the authors write.

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