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Taxi drivers particularly at risk from COVID-19, ONS figures reveal

Coronavirus: Death data analysis flags threat to male road transport workers and security guards

Mark Moran
20 May 2020
Source: ONS
Source: ONS


Road transport drivers, including male taxi and cab drivers and chauffeurs, have some of the highest rates of death involving COVID-19, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show.

People working in social care in England and Wales have been twice as likely to die with coronavirus as the general working-age population, but healthcare workers have been no more likely to die than other workers, says the ONS.

Of the remaining major occupational groups with high rates among men, those who worked in Process, plant and machine operative occupations had one of the highest number of deaths overall (242 deaths). This group includes occupations whose main tasks are to operate and monitor industrial equipment; assemble products; and drive and assist in the operation of transport vehicles and other machines.

At a more granular level, road transport drivers were found to account for the largest proportion of deaths (69.0% of the major group deaths, or 18.5 deaths per 100,000 males).

Among road transport drivers, taxi and cab drivers and chauffeurs had the highest rate, with 36.4 deaths per 100,000 males (76 deaths). Other occupations with significantly higher rates include bus and coach drivers, with 26.4 deaths per 100,000 males (29 deaths).

Nearly two-thirds of the 2,494 20- to 64-year-olds whose deaths were linked to COVID-19 were men. Some 63 were male security guards, making this work group almost twice as likely to die as even men working in social care.

The ONS analysis, up to 20 April, factored in age but did not take account of people's ethnicity, location, wealth or underlying health conditions. As a result, it cannot prove the deaths were caused by the jobs people do or by other factors.

Being male, being from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background and having other health problems are known to increase the risk of dying from COVID-19.
Of the 2,494 deaths analysed, 131 were care workers - 86 female and 45 male. But, the ONS suggests, because many more social care workers are female, this equates to a death rate of 23.4 per 100,000 for men and 9.6 per 100,000 for women.

Despite their close proximity to patients, healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, had much lower death rates. This may be because they had better access to personal protective equipment (PPE) than other workers, the ONS says.

The overall death rate for men aged 20-64 in England and Wales linked to COVID-19 was 9.9 deaths per 100,000, compared with 5.2 for women. For male security guards, it was 45.7.

Men working in low-skilled jobs were more likely to die with COVID-19 than other groups, including managers, skilled tradesmen and professionals. Among men, ONS discovered that some specific occupations had noticeably higher death rates linked to COVID-19, including:

  • taxi drivers and chauffeurs (36.4 deaths per 100,000)
  • bus and coach drivers (26.4 deaths per 100,000)
  • chefs (35.9 deaths per 100,000)
  • sales and retail assistants (19.8 deaths per 100,000)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by occupation, England and Wales: deaths registered up to and including 20 April 2020
(Provisional analysis of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19), by different occupational groups, among males and females aged 20 to 64 years in England and Wales)


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